Succession Management – Business Continuity At Its Best

The nightmare begins to unfold as you walk into your office on Monday morning. A blustery cold front has blown through late Sunday night bringing freezing temperatures and strong winds. You are not worried about it since your building is climate controlled. As you turn on the tap to fill the coffee carafe, there is no water. You try the water fountain in the hallway. Still there is no running water. Over the weekend, a piece of scaffolding used to wash the building’s windows broke free smashing an office window two floors above you allowing water pipes in the building to freeze. The bottom line, no running water, no fire suppression, no occupying the building for a couple of days until everything is repaired. This is a true story that put businesses housed in a 23 story building in Dallas out of business for two days in the mid 1980’s.

For years, businesses of all shapes and sizes have been planning and preparing for business interruptions. Classic business continuity plans typically include contingency actions for scenarios that are disastrous or catastrophic in nature, result in intermediate or long-term business interruptions, and threaten the livelihood and future prosperity of the business. Unfortunately, the same kinds of business continuity issues exist in one of the most overlooked areas of business continuity, leadership succession planning. Developing and implementing a leadership succession plan is just as important as a well-defined business continuity plan.

Consider the tragic events affecting the Thermo King Corporation in March 1966. Thermo King, best known for their refrigeration products, was rewarding dealers, distributors, and top executives for outstanding sales with a 14-day company paid trip to Japan. For the fix bad reviews click here A British Airways 707airplane carrying Thermo King’s top executives, dealers, distributors, and their families crashed just after take-off in Japan due to extreme turbulence around Mt. Fuji. Those remaining at Thermo King following the tragedy were unprepared for such a catastrophic loss on an emotional and business level. They had the difficult task of finding the ways and means to carry on after receiving the heartbreaking news.

A comprehensive succession management plan employing all available components represents a continuous competitive advantage to your business that will generate loyalty, establish your company with a healthy reputation for leadership development, and make your recruiting and retention job much easier. A comprehensive succession management plan contains the following components and characteristics divided into program strategies and tactics.

Strategically speaking, a comprehensive succession management program consists of the following components:

Organizational commitment and cultural acceptance
Clear organizational program goals and objectives
Involvement criteria that includes all exempt employees regardless of level
Employee and direct-report commitment to the program and processes
Complementing the strategic components of a comprehensive succession management program are the tactical components, consisting of the following items:
Employee ranking approach for potential and performance such as a nine-blocker.
Bi-directional input to the succession management program from both employees and direct reports annually.
Data base of information storing bi-directional input from employees and direct reports.
Clearly defined expectations for program administration, employees and direct reports.
Documentation for the program’s processes, roles, and responsibilities.
Projections for potential future assignments in one, three, and five year increments with alternatives for each projection.
Candid and dignified communication.
Visible and measurable succession paths illustrated in organization charts and maintained by senior corporate officers.

The structure of a succession management program must support the organizations goals and objectives for a succession management program. Furthermore, the program’s long-term success depends on assuring the organization embraces the program fusing the program into a corporate culture. This is a moderate investment with long-term high-yield benefits.

Execution of a good succession management plan starts with clearly defined organizational goals for the plan and top down commitment to the plan. Every exempt management associate becomes a participant in the program. Collectively, this group represents the stakeholders most likely to warrant involvement.

Among the basic tools and processes necessary to support a comprehensive succession management plan are:

Input conduits to catalog basic information regarding potential future assignments in one, three, and five year increments along with alternatives for each assignment.
A data base we will call Resource Inventory Management (RIM) to store input information regarding potential future assignments in one, three, and five year increments along with alternatives for each assignment.

Periodic review and revision of information stored in RIM through a defined and documented process such as the annual review process or a 9 blocker process.
Program process documentation and training for those involved.
The means to represent potential succession candidates through “what-if” software allowing for scenario analysis.

Once these basic tools are in place, you are ready to start the iterative processes of building a comprehensive succession management program. Critical to the ongoing success of this program is assigning an owner of the program and processes that will diligently proctor, shepherd, and maintain the program. Typically, this is your HR department head with the support of the organization at-large.

Now that you have the basic idea and inspiration, consider a comprehensive succession management planning program the next time you examine your company’s strategic recipe for success. Look specifically for the right measure of succession management planning herbs and spices in your strategic blend for assuring the long-term success of your organization. Adding or enhancing a comprehensive succession management program to your strategic initiatives will sweeten the value of your company paying internal dividends well into the future

Mr. McCarty has a proven record of accomplishment in strategic leadership roles for fortune 500 companies. He is an award winning performer in the areas of large-scale operations leadership, strategic planning, senior project management, and significant contributions to the bottom line. Michael has successfully leveraged his leadership skills to provide keen insight, vision, direction, and executive support to financial services firms, information technology firms, and the automotive, credit, and insurance industries. He has been particularly effective in start-up and turnaround situations.

Insisting on integrity, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and ingenuity, Mr. McCarty is an action and solution oriented leader capable of making strong financial contributions to the bottom line. Operational leadership in the areas of process improvements, cost analysis, and innovative revenue generation characterize soundly this veteran executive’s distinguished career.

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