Recently I had a conversation with one of our consultants about the issue of “Succession Planning” and how critical this is becoming for organizations with the commencement of the retirement of the “Baby Boomers”.

We talked at length about how many organizations are ill-prepared for the major void that will be left when their key senior people start to retire. The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article I read recently about succession planning and I thought you might find it interesting.

“Fundamental to the succession-management process is an underlying philosophy that argues that top talent in the corporation must be managed for the greater good of the enterprise. Merck and other companies argue that a “talent mindset” must be part of the leadership culture for these practices to be effective.

Research indicates many succession-planning initiatives fall short of their intent (Corporate Leadership Council, 1998). “Bench strength,” as it is commonly called, remains a stubborn problem in many if not most companies. Studies indicate that companies that report the greatest gains from succession planning feature high ownership by the CEO and high degrees of engagement among the larger leadership team (Kesler 2002).

Companies that are well known for their succession planning and executive talent development practices include: GE, Honeywell, IBM, Marriott, Microsoft, Pepsi and Proctor and Gamble.

Research indicates that clear objectives are critical to establishing effective succession planning (Kesler 2002). These objectives tend to be core to many or most companies that have well-established practices:

  • Identify those with the potential to assume greater responsibility in the organization
  • Provide critical development experiences to those that can move into key roles
  • Engage the leadership in supporting the development of high-potential leaders
  • Build a data base that can be used to make better staffing decisions for key jobs

In other companies these additional objectives may be embedded in the succession process:

  • Improve employee commitment and retention
  • Meet the career development expectations of existing employees
  • Counter the increasing difficulty and costs of recruiting employees externally”

We would love to hear from you with any thoughts or questions you may have around succession planning.