Tag Archives: succession planning

Who Will Happen?

“Who will our company leaders be in twenty years?” I asked. “Who will our company leaders be in five years?”

There were puzzled faces around the room. “Well, it’s going to be whoever steps up,” said a voice from the back of the room.

“What if that person is not currently employed here, and you have to promote someone without the capability to be effective in those roles?”

“I guess we will have to go to the outside and recruit,” came another voice.

“And, when will you know you need to do that?” I pressed.

“Maybe, we should get a committee together in a couple of years to look into our succession planning,” said someone from the front.

“Not good enough,” I nodded. “I want to see a personnel plan from every manager, every year. A rolling plan one year out, three years out and five years out. Do we need new roles on the team, do we need to take some roles away? Which personnel are operating effectively, who needs a new challenge, who needs to be liberated to industry? What roles will be replaced by technology? What growth or contraction do we expect?

“You see, succession happens all over the organization. It’s not just top leadership. Your technicians become team leaders, your team leaders become supervisors, your supervisors become managers, your managers become executive managers. Succession happens at each level of work over time.

“Planning for what will happen is not nearly as important as planning for who will happen.”

The Real Constraint

“I admit it. I am struggling. I feel like I am trying to ride two horses at the same time. My boss wants me to take on more responsibility, but I still have all this other work to do. He says I need to let go, but I don’t know who to get to help me.” Rachel was moving up in the organization, but needed to identify someone on her staff as an emerging manager to fill in behind.

“Rachel, you say you want this new responsibility?” I waited. Though I knew her head would say yes. “Here is a big fat secret. You will never be able to move up in this organization until you have found someone to take over what you do.

“Everyone thinks you cannot move up until you have learned a new skill, but the real constraint is below. You cannot move up until you have identified a person to take over your current responsibilities. And once you find them, you have to train them and test them.

“One of your biggest responsibilities, as a manager, is to find and build a person as your replacement. And it doesn’t happen in a week. You have to be thinking two or three years to the future.”

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