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Succession Planning for the C-Suite

Whether you’re in the c-suite of a high-profile business like Microsoft or own your own store on Main Street, there comes a time when succession planning needs to be discussed. It isn’t always an easy discussion, but one that’s necessary for your business to continue to succeed.

In a 2011 poll, 23% of organizations have a formal succession plan compared to 38% having an informal plan.

These facts should make you stop in your tracks.

This poll, conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management, said that most succession plans are found in larger organizations that have 2,500 or more employees. While that’s great, it’s still an alarming figure. If you run a major brand, say United or Google for example, there had better be plans for someone leaving the c-suite. Even if you’re a local shop, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place.

How do you go about putting a plan in place? First, pick out the people you think would be most likely to succeed in the position. Don’t just take their experience or years with the company into consideration. If you’re thinking about moving someone into the c-suite, consider his or her ability to lead, motivate, and drive change.

Making Marketing WorkIf you can’t choose, let the team help. I don’t mean by taking a vote – I mean by letting them nominate themselves. It allows you to maintain transparency within your company by letting everyone know what’s going on. As an added bonus, it allows you to weed people out. If someone doesn’t self-nominate, should you still consider them for the position?

What if no one self-nominates, and the people you hand select don’t work out? Find someone outside of the organization that you trust and evaluate their experience, skills and capabilities. There’s no shortage of people looking to get into the c-suite – just make sure they want to drink your businesses Kool-Aid and will dedicate themselves to your brand (and brand promise).

Once you’ve gotten your select few chosen, it’s time to get them ready. This preparation is crucial because you want to give them all the tools they need to be ready. It’s much more than simply leading a horse to water – they must jump into the water. Board meetings, counseling sessions, education opportunities, and networking are all key factors. Again, giving them the tools they need for the job.

You’ve got the tools and the people who want to see the business succeed after you’re gone. Make sure you have plans in place to bring those people on before it’s too late. It’s peace of mind for you and your business.


JWH_headshot4Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity and speaker, bestselling author, Contributing Editor for Bloomberg Television, and former Fortune 100 c-suite executive. He is the CEO of The Hayzlett Group, an international strategic business consulting company focused on leading change and developing high growth companies. Contact us for more information.

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