succession planning

As an entrepreneur or business leader you want to create a successful future for the company and the next generation of people who will lead the company.  Unfortunately according to David Franzetta, author of Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning and my recent guest on The Business Edge, most fail to successfully navigate the succession and transition process that’s required to have a profitable future.

Given the importance of succession planning to continue the success of the business, it’s a bit surprising that according to the Society for Human Resource Management(SHRM), the number of U.S. organizations with a formal succession plan in place is less that 25%.

Why Do So Many Avoid It?

Again SHRM says, “the number one reason organizations are not developing formal succession planning is because more immediate projects are talking precedence – not surprising given that organizations are focusing their energies on dealing with an uncertain economic outlook.

However, there’s a lot more behind putting succession and transition planning on the back burner than concerns about the economy. Business leaders avoid planning for all of the reasons people avoid change. They opt for the apparent certainty of continuing day-to-day routine rather than planning for an admittedly unfamiliar and uncertain future – hoping things will work out for the best.

Hoping For the Best Is Not the Answer

The best solution to uncertainty is to take some small action and build on it. In other words, start in small doses. Here’s what one of my clients did: The leadership team spent one staff meeting a quarter to answer a key question about the company’s future. Here are some of the questions they focused on.

  1. How are we navigating the company to a promising future? Do we have a clear destination in sight or is it clouded with uncertainty?
  2.  What changes in the business environment can have impact on us – our industry – our region, etc.? Do we need to do a SWOT?
  3. What skills, knowledge and capabilities exist inside the company today and what will be needed for our future in 1, 3 or even five years?
  4. What is our culture today? As we grow or change, does it have to change? What values and

You can develop additional questions that are most relevant for your company. What you want is deep conversation about each question – not let’s get through this as fast as we can. Remember to record the key points and review them at the next meeting before moving on to the next question. The purpose is twofold. Create an awareness and priority for succession planning and keep it on the front, not the back burner.

 Smart Moves Tip

If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there. But the “there” could be “nowhere.” Don’t wait until you have more time, more money, more customers, more of whatever. Start now to focus on succession planning. Otherwise you’ll be leaving your future to chance and who knows where your company or organization will end up.

Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge  on the Voice America Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen.  Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.