Succession Planning for a Long Departure



As we left off in our last post of this series, succession planning- selecting the right person to take over your role in the event of your absence- is often a daunting task.

Business owners tend to ask, “Who should I choose to fill in my shoes?”

This question is in the heart of any succession planning.

Big companies use methodologies to identify potential leaders early on, train them along the way, and provide them with growth oriented experiences. This strategy provides the candidates with a diverse experience within the company’s culture and market, allowing them to successfully carry out the needed tasks.

Yet, many business owners feel they have no choice.

The smaller the company is, the more acute this feeling.

If it is of any relief, even corporations looking to replace an executive sometimes scout talent from outside. The key word here is talent.

The real question is:

“Which talents are needed to run my business?”

Rather than merely reviewing your employee list and following your gut instinct, let’s take a more analytical approach.

Phase 1: Skills Exploration

  • List all the skills required to do your job. To help you narrow this down, use the task list you created when we worked on part 1 (first post in this series).
  • Classify each skill with a number that YOU think it is worth. Use a scale from 1 to 10, were 10 is “extremely important” and 1 is “not important at all”.
  • Create a table identifying each skill and its number value.
  • Decide on your minimum value number requirement per skill. For example, if in order to effectively run your business, a lot of customer interaction is needed, you attribute interpersonal skills as a minimum of 9 out of 10.
  • An important note: If everything is important, than nothing is. Review your own grading to truly highlight what is important and what is not.
  • Now, and only now, put the names of people in your organization into the table and give each one of them a score from 1 to 10 – based on your experience with them. Naturally, you will only include those employees that you have personally worked with. If none of these are a good option for you, you may either want to look at other places within your organization or outside for talent. In this case, contact a well established recruiting company like Spherion.
  • Highlight those candidates that fit within the minimum requirements.
  • Using your value classification, give a weighted score per skill to each candidate.
  • And move them to phase 2.

Phase 2: Attitude Alignment

“Attitude” is a loaded word. Yet, it is not any less important than “skills”.

It is intuitive to decide who’s going to run YOUR business from a subjective point of view.

  • The degree to which they would have your values
  • The scope they would make similar decisions as you
  • The extent to which they would act similarly (or not) to you

When it comes to choosing your successor, knowing this is critical.

The ability to trust someone to provide desired results without you around will ultimately determine your selection.

Once you’ve applied your attitude test and selected the one, identify their weaknesses. See if someone else on your team has those skills as a strength.

You can split some of the work responsibilities between these two, defining a clear expectation of who’s doing what. Or, if you have enough time and if it makes sense, you may have the chosen successor shadow the other in order to improve the specific skill they lack.

You may end up selecting the same person that you would have purely using your gut feeling. But, this way you’ll have identified clearly what else is needed to bring them to the caliber you can really count on.

In the comments section below share: what are the skills that you deem extremely important?

If you need help planning for a long departure or succession planning in particular, call us at (732)385-1522 to see how our certified coaches can help.