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Succession Planning: Why Companies Fail

Michael Miller May 7, 2014 4:26:28 PM

Succession_PlanningIn our last post, we discussed some the traits that are important when creating succession plans. In this post we want to take a step back and look at some of the reasons companies don't implement succession plans or find their programs aren't working.

What we've learned in over 40 years working with clients is that succession planning is sometimes a bit of a bigger animal to tackle than one might anticipate when they first look at it. Here's a list of what our clients tell us they are missing to make it all come together. Have a read and see if you see yourself in here anywhere, or add your challenges to the list in the comments section.

These are in no particular order, but here we go ...

Lack of understanding of internal talent
Our clients are looking at the future and wondering who’s going to fill various roles and more progressively senior roles. They look at the people within the organization, but they’re not sure they know whether these are people who can move forward or not. Have you confidently identified the people in your organization who have what it takes to lead? Have you identified the "what it takes"?  

Don't understand the future roles required
Another challenge is not understanding what the future roles they need are going to be. We all know that we’re living in a rapidly-changing world that gets faster all the time. Markets change. Consumers change. Where’s our organization going?  Where’s the industry going, our competition, our customers? What are we going to be doing two years from now? Three years, five years?  If that’s hard to pin down, it’s certainly difficult then to pin down what roles are going to be required to meet the needs of the marketplace in the future. Have you mapped out what roles you need to meet future needs?

Development, training and mentoring
If you think of those first two items as a gap analysis: the talent we have, understanding that and the future roles that are required. What do you need to do to move people up in the organization into various roles and take on more responsibility? There needs to be some opportunity for them to learn and grow through development, training, and mentoring. That’s a piece that a lot of our clients do focus on, but it frequently seems that there’s a lack of resources available to put behind that to fulfill this thing called succession planning. Do you have the resources to make your program work?

Integration with performance management
Another key challenge our clients say they have is the integration of succession planning with other aspects of the organization. Things like the performance management system and career planning, for example. Succession planning is sometimes seen as an activity unto itself when, in fact, it really does need to be integrated with a number of these other activities. That requires a really broad strategy that sees how all these thing are aligned and many organizations struggle with that. How aligned are you?

Communication
Finally, just communication about succession plans and requirements throughout the organization. Communication with managers who make decisions about who’s promoted and with the potential candidates who could move up in the organization through an effective succession management process. Usually these latter people are high performers with high potential. They tend to have a lot of drive to get ahead. That’s part of their makeup and probably why they are high performers and have high potential. If they’re not aware of what the future could hold for them in the organization there’s always at risk of moving on.

Are your struggles with succession plans captured above? If not, add your challenges to the list in the comments section.

If you're curious to learn how our clients use The McQuaig System to address these challenges and others, get in touch and we'd be happy to show you.

Topics: Leadership development, Coaching and Development