Succession Planning

Thanks to Edward Stanford from Urban Systems, I am writing this month on succession planning. This is probably one of the last things that most boards, organizations and companies think of when doing strategic planning or long term business planning. But it is a reality that many employees are retiring at a rapid rate and if you do not have a succession plan, you will find a great void between between those who have lots of experience and those who are working their way up the experience ladder. Or how about one of your key executives or CEO/Executive Director decides to move on? As for Boards, you should always be thinking of succession planning, as the life expectancy of the average board member is about 5 years.

What do we do about this? Some answers to this are:

  • Always keep an eye out for potential successors. For Board members, they will come from the community or someone may approach you looking for a Board to sit on or get involved in a community organization. If this happens, give them your business card and get in touch with them as soon as possible after your initial meeting with them.
  • For CEO’s or Executive Directors- Look within your company or organization for possible candidates and talk to them about their plans for the future. If they are interested, you may want to invest in further training or professional development to help them prepare for their future.
  • For company executives or employees- Again, look within or keep on the look out for potential successors at meetings, conferences, etc. They are out there but it sometimes takes some effort to find them.

One potential tool that you might want to look at is an ESOP. This is a stock equity plan for employees that includes stock options, stock purchases, etc. This program offers your employees a chance to have a share in the company thus retaining them longer and allowing you to develop them to future leaders in your company. If you are a non-profit, this might be a challenge for you but some creative thinking on how to do this in other ways might result in greater successes for you in keeping employees longer. A link for you to look at this concept is

I know that this will come as a shock to a lot of you, but we are not going to be working forever. We need to be constantly thinking about the future and succession planning is something important for the survival of any company or organization. So make the time and invest in your future through succession planning.