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Staff / Business / Standards And Certifications
October 2012 Raising Standards

Put Success Back In Your Succession Planning

October 01, 2012
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One of the most challenging times for an organization is when there are leadership changes.

While the departure of the company’s founder and/or chief executive officer (CEO) is the biggest succession challenge, changes at all levels of the organization are equally import.

Navigating through this time requires not only a well-groomed new leader, but a carefully planned transition process and serious strategic succession planning.

Even if your organization has no intention of having a change in leadership today, it is necessary to develop a succession plan because our industry is so dynamic.

Business owners must face the reality that unexpected change can occur at any time.

This is one of the reasons why succession planning is a key piece of the human resources principle of ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS).

The last thing any leader should want for their business is for it to be left high and dry with no one to lead the company successfully into the future.

Finding A Future Leader

Choosing a successor doesn’t always mean choosing someone like you.

It is more important to select the candidate who will earn the respect of employees and continue to drive the company down the right path.

When considering your next leader, here are some questions to ask yourself and your fellow leadership team:

  • What core competencies must the company’s leader have?

The CEO always knows where the company is going; it is important that all leaders and their successors share the vision.

Some of these competencies could be strategic thinking ability, financial analysis and the ability to communicate well and manage other executives.

Additionally, you should consider competencies that are specific to your business or industry.

  • Can the potential successor work effectively with your management team?

Choosing a successor who works well with you, the management team and/or the other stakeholders is essential.

If that working relationship is not healthy, then the successor is already setup to fail.

  • What values are most important and define the culture you’ve built?

The right successor will demonstrate a commitment to the values on which your company was built.

  • Is your team prepared for a new successor?

It is important that the successor is readily accepted by the leadership team and the rest of the organization.

He or she will need support, especially at the executive/management level.

Without management buy-in, you risk derailing the succession process and, potentially, the success of the company.

Plan For Your Own Succession

A good leader works on developing future leaders for the organization every day.

Because finding the right person to succeed the leader of the company takes time, organizations often bring in a transitional leader for a short time to work with the board and staffs until the best candidate is found.

Some of the things organizations can do regularly to prepare and identify emerging leaders include:

  • Creating a search committee made up of board, staffs and members of your constituency to get the broadest input
  • Gathering the board and leadership staffs together to develop job descriptions for key leadership positions, which includes identifying essential personality traits, skills, values and attitudes needed for potential candidates
  • Looking for employees with leadership qualities and giving those people opportunities to play multiple roles in the organization

Letting current staffs know that they are welcome to apply for leadership positions because it is important to give the message that the organization welcomes internal and external candidates.

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