Last week, I gave two presentations at the National Association of Workforce Professionals’ annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. One of them—titled “9 Succession Planning Pitfalls to Avoid”—proved to be real eye-opener for many attendees.
I define succession planning as strategically aligning the needs of the business with human capital while developing necessary skills and preparing people for advancement.
In response to my questions of the audience, what surprised me most was learning how many organizations:
- Don’t do succession planning of any kind.
- Create a plan but don’t execute it.
- Get caught with no properly trained replacement leader ready when the time came.
Why is succession planning so critical? Because it:
- Will properly prepare individuals for advancement.
- Supports an organization’s strategic and operational goals.
- Positions the organization for both anticipated and unexpected changes.
Proactively create and implement a succession plan for the key positions in your organization.
Based on my experience with succession planning, I’m familiar with several pitfalls to avoid, including my top 3:
#1. Late to Create – not addressing succession needs soon enough. Succession planning is constantly on the minds of exceptional leaders because they think proactively about the future.
#2. What We Have is What We Need Mindset – planning for the type of person(s) we have now versus the type we may need in the future. Exceptional leaders know business needs shift over time. As they change, the capabilities of future leaders must align with those needs.
#3. An Ineffective Development Plan – missing the opportunity to identify specific needs for individual improvement and/or not preparing future leaders with the proper training, coaching, or mentoring for the individual’s development.
Many organizations do a great job with succession planning, but when they don’t, it can negatively affect and damage morale, cause unwanted turnover, and create voids throughout the organization.
Life often comes at you fast. When it does, you want to be prepared through succession planning. And if succession planning is uncomfortable for you to deal with, get outside expertise—it’s that important.