Prov 28:2: “When a land transgresses, it gains a succession of leaders, but with an understanding and knowledgeable man, its stability endures.” Plan earlier than you think. The person with the most time wins, and after leading through a pandemic, who knows how long that will be.
“In a post-COVID world I see significant changes in succession planning. I think that there will be unexpected resignations resulting in swiftly planed successions. The stress of the pandemic has been unprecedented. I predict that we’ll start to see leaders resigning in their 40s and early 50s to lead outside the church. Leading through 2020 has had the stress of 10 normal years. They aren’t going to have gas in the tank,” Todd Clark, Senior Associate in Senior Leadership at Slingshot Group.
It’s been a tough year, and I think it’s been hardest on upper leadership. When I spoke to Mark Brown, he mirrored Todd Clark’s comments on leading through COVID. He said, “leading through Hurricane Harvey was tough but leading through COVID has been exhausting. It’s called compassion fatigue. You need to force yourself to practice self-care and take time off. Leaders that make it through the pandemic are going to be a tough bunch”.
From start to finish, talking to so many experts and colleagues has given me so much insight into what a good succession plan looks like, and it is true: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Advice From our Experts
- The sooner you start planning the better.
- Design a roadmap for succession planning.
- Start asking good questions.
- Think through what the current person does that will be challenging to replace and look how that gap will be bridged.
- Look at your current team. Is the right person in place and will they be developed in time or should you start considering hiring externally before it’s too late? In recruiting we see this often – people wait until the person is about to leave to start the transition, but when you wait too long, they don’t have time to build rapport, learn the organization, and sometimes you don’t’ realize they aren’t a fit until it’s too late. The most successful transitions were when someone was hired 1-2 years before it was necessary and were part of building up the team to manage the change.
- Reproduce yourself early. Succession plans aren’t always highly promoted. People keep a lot in their heads and don’t pass the information along.
- Get support from upper leadership. If your organization doesn’t value the role of CFO and Controller, change can take more time that it should.
- Don’t hire people with just heart and vision. You need the complete package.
- It costs a lot more to replace someone than it does to develop and retain them in a way that it is mutually beneficial to the organization and the employee.
- When considering a succession strategy, you must look beyond just the technical competencies required to do a job. A person may check all the functional boxes, but if they’ve never had to lead a team, manage change, or have difficult conversations, there is a good chance they’ll fail. Your strategy must focus as much on developing your team’s soft skills as it is hard skills.
Succession Planning Checklist
- Identify leadership roles
- Create a timeline for each leadership role, ideally plan 3-5 years out depending on the role and complexity of the job
- Get leadership team involved and form a succession plan/hiring committee
- Interview/hire succession planning and consulting experts like: Mission:Leadership, Slingshot Group, or Vanderbloemen
- Create an emergency departure plan and a planned departure plan
- Implement behavior assessment tools (i.e. DiSC Assessment, Culture Index, Style of Influence, etc.)
- Identify talent gaps
- Cultivate internal talent for future positions
- Implement a Millennial and Gen Z recruiting strategy
- Develop an internal training program
- Consider third-party solutions for technology improvement and outsourcing
- Transition new leader into the organization while phasing current leader out of the role
Download the full eBook: Succession Planning for the Back-Office
In our eBook, we dig into succession planning and discuss why it is so important. We provide stories and statistical data to help you clearly understand the necessity of succession planning.
In our eBook we cover the following topics:
- The Purpose of Succession Planning
- The Importance of Good Leadership
- Culture Really Matters
- What You Need to Know About Hiring Millennials
- Hiring from Within
- Succession Planning for the Back-Office
- Red Flags to Watch Out For
- What’s Next?