BusinessDictionary.com defines succession planning as the “identification and development of potential successors for key positions in an organization, through a systematic evaluation process and training. Succession planning is largely predictive in judging an individual for a position he or she might never have been in.” Seems straightforward enough, right? Although it may seem simple, organizations often have trouble executing the succession planning process effectively.
Here are some commonly made succession planning mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Not choosing the right replacement who will meet future needs. The skills that were prominent in the previous leader may not be the same skills required for future success.
Solution: Evaluate what your organization truly needs. Maybe sales are struggling—choose a candidate with a sales background so he/she may turn that issue around.
Creating a competitive environment. When choosing such an important replacement, it’s best to have options. But when multiple people are aware that they are all being considered for the same position, a competitive environment can easily develop.
Solution: To minimize competitiveness or hostility, maintain a fair and informative selection process. All candidates should be kept in the loop about details of the selection process, and given an explanation if they are not chosen for the position.
Fearing what will happen next. Succession planning is often put on a back burner, seen as more of an “I’ll do it when I have the time” task rather than the top priority that it should be. CEOs often procrastinate on this process due to their fear of moving on and preservation of their ego.
Solution: Instead of thinking, “What’s going to happen to me when I’m replaced,” think more along the lines of “How can I prepare the business for my absence?”
Although succession planning can be a daunting process, it is vital for the smooth continuation of your organization.