Situation: A company wants to create a succession plan for key roles. Historically they haven’t had succession plans, but they are actively looking at candidates, skill sets, and so forth. The CEO wants to be able to make a recommendation to the Board. What are best practices in succession planning?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Start with job and role descriptions. Select internal candidates for the positions and offer trial opportunities to assess their capabilities.
- Test potential successors with projects to see if they can rise to the level of the higher responsibility. It may take more than one try to assess this.
- Along the way you may discover hidden talents possessed by some of your employees.
- Start with your incumbents. One of their responsibilities should be to identify possible inside candidates as successors for their positions, and to create a profile of qualifications for outside candidates. This should also be part of their job descriptions.
- Succession candidates must desire the responsibility of the higher position. Don’t assume that everyone will want this. Some will be very good in their current role. Trying to force them to advance in responsibility can be counterproductive.
- Do not assume that an outsider with a good resume and industry connections can fill the role of an insider who knows the company and its products and services.