Posts Tagged ‘Succession Planning’

Are You Getting Leadership Development Right?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

leadership developmentIn today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares strategies HR professionals can take to ensure their next generation of leaders are prepared to fill the shoes of their predecessors and lead their business to future success. 

One topic that is a constant point of dialogue for HR professionals is leadership development. The quality of leadership, more than any other factor, often determines the success or failure of an organization. Leadership development helps to improve leadership quality by ensuring that leaders possess the competencies to achieve the organization’s strategy, continue to improve the organizational culture, and strengthen organizational capabilities.

The best investment an organization can make is in the development of its future leaders. Such an investment yields both short-term and long-term dividends. In the short-term, leaders will be better prepared for the challenges they face in their current roles. They will also be more likely to help foster a learning culture if they themselves are an active participant in learning.

Additionally, and more importantly, the risk associated with leadership departures is greatly reduced by improved better bench strength that is a consequence of leadership development. Many organizations fail to adequately develop the next generation of people who will replace individuals in these leadership roles. Making matters worse is the fact that a significant number of baby-boomers will be retiring in the next 5 years.

On one hand, the responsibility for an organizational commitment to developing future leaders begins with the executive team.

On the other hand, HR should own all talent processes and must play a key role in spotlighting the issue and driving the leadership development and succession planning processes.

Forward-looking HR professionals should begin the process by answering these questions:

  1. What are we doing to prepare our next generation of leaders?
  2. Is our pipeline filled with the talent needed to carry out our organization’s strategy?
  3. Who is the ‘person in charge’ of developing our new leaders?
  4. Is leadership development an organizational priority?
  5. How are our top leaders involved?

Where to Start

Step 1: Align with strategy

Ensure that the leadership development efforts are aligned to the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. Senior leaders also must accept that leadership development is a lengthy process.

Step 2: Create common set of values

Ensure that there is a common set of leadership values and standards that permeate everything the organization does including-  recruiting, hiring, succession planning, and performance management.

A good starting point for the values may include the following:

  • Results Focus
  • Accountability
  • Respect for Others
  • Leveraging Diversity
  • Effective Communication
  • Building Trust

Step 3: Communicate the philosophy

Create a leadership development philosophy statement that defines the principles the organization champions. A leadership development philosophy provides direction for those crafting the plan and a communication tool to help the organization understand leadership development.

Step 4: Agree upon objectives

Make certain that all leaders are aligned to the following objectives:

  1. Make improving bench strength a top priority (including succession and retention plans)
  2. Ensure each leader takes responsibility for developing future leaders
  3. Measure the business results of leadership development
  4. Making learning an organizational priority
  5. Create formal development plans for emerging leaders

Lack of true engaged support from current leaders is one of the key reasons that leadership development fails. Your role as an HR professional is to help senior leaders see leadership development as a strategy as opposed to being the project du jour. Identifying and improving the quality of leaders must be a top priority to ensure a filled pipeline of experienced employees ready to be placed.

For any further questions about how you can support leadership development, please give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. If you have any suggestions as to how to improve leadership development, we’d love to hear them in the comments section!

Is Your Succession Plan Transparent?

Thursday, February 18th, 2016
Rick Washburn, A&R Manager

Rick Washburn, A&R Manager

In today’s post, Advice & Resolution Manager Rick Washburn discusses the importance of creating a transparent succession plan for your business and fostering an open dialogue between managers and employees regarding career development.

Succession planning is at the very heart of any talent management program.  Done properly it is the process of identifying and/or developing talent for future business needs.

Is your succession plan transparent?  Do your business leaders have open dialogues about employee development, high-potential employees, and the like? Transparent succession plans create trust and the employee buy-in necessary to help the business retain top performers and reduce turn-over.  These plans also facilitate open discussions about career paths and development opportunities and helps leaders ensure that they do not unknowingly force top performers down paths that they would rather not go down.

The best succession plans, according to a 2012 Aon Hewitt study, drive proactive development of leaders and create distinct competitive advantages.  These plans are as transparent as possible and encourage trust and integrity, while minimizing internal politics.   In a 2010 Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) Leadership survey, 77% of the respondents said it was highly desirable for them to be formally identified and acknowledged as high-potential employees.

Transparency is also a key component of an organizations’ engagement and retention strategies. Leadership development plans that are communicated directly to succession plan participants is a vital element of these strategies.  Employees appreciate the time and effort that is being invested on their behalf both today and in the future.   According to a 2014 Towers Watson survey, more than half of the employers surveyed reported having difficulty retaining high-potential employees.  Letting your employees know that their skills and experience are valued dissuades top performers from leaving.

As mentioned above, it is also important to discuss career aspirations with employees to determine their level of interest in opportunities within your business.  A specific skill may not align with an employee’s ambitions.  Being upfront and open with employees leads to both more effective succession plans and more engaged leaders in your business.

So then, why do many employers struggle with the question of how and when to tell high potential employees (HIPOTS) they are high potentials?  One reason may be because of the risks of disengaging other employees who aren’t considered as HIPOTS.

To avoid this problem, Barry Conchie, a Gallup Senior Scientist and coauthor of the bestseller Strengths Based Leadership recommends that “Before a company says anything to its high-potential leaders, it must determine the criteria that it will use to identify top leadership talent.  Those criteria must be explicit and public. It’s important for people to know what qualifies them to be on the list.”  Conchie notes that many companies select leaders based on personality traits or likability, not demonstrated leadership talent.  This can damage engagement among other employees who think they should be leaders but were not picked.

Another barrier is that once you tell someone they are a HIPOT, if they don’t feel the love from you in terms of development, assignments, and even compensation some are apt to look elsewhere.   Notes Conchie, “you have to pay them what they’re worth or they’ll leave…They have to feel special because they are special. There are harsh economic realities here.”

For any assistance in developing or improving upon your business’s succession plan please give Tom Sheehan (919-325-4113) or myself (919-713-5247) a call today.

Create a Succession Plan to Accurately Predict Your Company’s Future

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

July Quote Blog 2013

Alan Kay, the father of the personal computer said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

What does the future of your organization look like? How will your organization proceed in the next five or ten years? If you don’t have the answers, you should get started on inventing your future now. The best way to do that is with a succession plan.

Maintaining business success in the years to come depends on whether your current leadership team creates a plan outlining which of your top-performing employees will step into leadership and newly created roles when the appropriate time comes. The retirement of one of your top managers or a decision of permanent maternity leave from a key specialist are examples of why succession planning is critical for keeping your business running smoothly. Review the advantages of succession planning in more detail here:

Succession planning is hard to complete if you can’t pinpoint key employees who can take over high-profile positions in your company when the time comes. Retaining hardworking employees is essential to foretelling your company’s future.  If you’re having trouble holding on to your company’s stars, you may need to revise your retention strategy. Here are some tips that can help you decrease turnover and increase loyalty among your workforce:

Creating a succession plan is an involved process that should include your senior leadership team and have input from the heads of all of your business departments. The goal of your succession plan is to identify, recruit and prepare your talented employees for important company positions they will eventually lead. Succession plans can vary based on the size and industry of an organization. However, most plans share several basic strategies. Check them out here:

For more information and additional tips on succession planning, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746,

**Workplace Insights will take a break for the Independence Day holiday. New posts will return next Tuesday, July 9. Please have a happy and safe holiday!

4 Benefits of Succession Planning for Your Workforce

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

How would your business perform if your top three employees left your organization tomorrow to join a competitor? What if members of your senior management team parted ways to begin their own businesses? If your CEO became terribly ill and couldn’t perform his duties, would your business continue to run smoothly?

Succession planning is essential for keeping your organization moving in the right direction even when several key members of your staff jump ship, retire or move on for other reasons.  As important as succession planning is, many companies forgo strategizing a plan to retain their best people to eventually take over different roles. Succession planning isn’t a rigorous assignment, but because the efforts of the process aren’t often revealed until a team member leaves, many businesses don’t take the time to start planning.

Deciding the key employees who will ultimately step into leadership and senior management roles is imperative for maintaining business success during any economic climate or business situation. Succession planning is also an office morale and engagement booster. Grooming employees for their future roles by giving them more complex tasks and investing in their growth keeps them focused, motivated and loyal to the company.

Here are four additional reasons to start drafting your organization’s succession plan:


Whether your employees leave to start retirement  life or plan to begin their own businesses, having a succession plan in place will help you more quickly identify which employees will take over your company’s open positions so your business can continue to run as normal.

Less Time and Money

Dedicating time to plan the future of your organization will save your company time and money. Plans to promote and train people within your company means less time spent recruiting for external candidates, interviewing them and checking their references. Money allotted to those efforts will also decrease with a solid succession plan in place.

Weakness is Uncovered

Finding future leaders reveals the strengths within your workforce, but it also uncovers the weaknesses that your organization must work on to secure business and financial growth. Help areas of your company that you discover to be weaker than others by offering training and resources that will help improve performance.

Get a Bird’s Eye View

Evaluating your workforce in preparation for succession planning gives you a great perspective of the talent in your organization. Ascertaining who should fill the shoes of another will help your team better understand the day-to-day happenings of your business. So as you’re planning don’t solely include roles for higher level executives. Incorporate middle managers and their direct reports to create a comprehensive succession plan.

For additional information on the benefits of succession planning or how to develop your company’s plan, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Is Your Company Prepared for America’s Ageing Workforce?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Many labor studies and workforce statistics indicate that the American workforce is ageing. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 4.6 adults will turn 65 each minute during 2012, and by 2025 that figure will increase to eight adults each minute. Knowing that America is graying rapidly, it is surprising that many employers have not prepared for this demographic change when planning for their future business ventures.

Ignoring reports revealing that baby boomers are interested in working past their retirement age and will stay at companies that offer flexibility will leave your company vulnerable to disorganization and revenue loss. Older workers offer a number of benefits to their employers. They are hardworking, loyal and professional. Older employees also boast vast networks of business contacts and extensive experience in their line of work.

Research shows that many baby boomers have no plans to fully retire and are interested in staying plugged into their career fields. If you’re interested in retaining the company knowledge that your older workers have acquired and the strong work ethics they incorporate into each of their projects, make sure you are keeping their needs in mind when you’re planning for company succession and total rewards packages. Listed below are a few items that older workers would like to see from their employers:


Employees approaching retirement age are not interested in working the typical 40-hour week. An increasing number of companies are receiving requests from their older workers to have more flexible work schedules.  Many workers at this age desire a high-quality of life and would prefer to work part time. To accommodate requests, organizations are implementing a number of measures to achieve productive, part-time schedules. Accommodations include reduced hours, telecommuting and job sharing.


Data shows that the US is experiencing a skills gap between available positions and available talent. When older workers retire, they take with them company experience and expertise, which is impossible to replace. For your employees who are contemplating retirement, ask them if they’d be interested in working for the company as a part-time consultant. In this setup, they will be able to reduce their hours and continue to apply their knowledge while your organization still has a valuable and reliable company resource on staff.

Health Plans

A company’s health care plan can be a determining factor on whether an employee decides to retire or stay with his organization. Many older workers may remain in their position longer than they’d like for fear that they’ll lose their health benefits. Feeling trapped in their jobs could result in their disengagement and reduced productivity. Meet with your benefits provider and work to offer a wellness and benefits program that will suit all of your employees, including your older workers.

Don’t lose your high-value talent and the company knowledge they carry with them because of poor workforce planning. If you would like additional information on succession planning or managing an aging workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: skilledwork_org

Basic Strategies for Succession Planning

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Succession planning is an important process that should be carried out by a management team to ensure the continuity of an organization’s business plan.  The key goal is to identify, recruit and prepare the most talented employees for key roles within the company.  These carefully selected employees should be provided with the education and training they need to achieve and succeed at higher levels and with broader responsibilities.

Through the planning process, these highly recognized employees will appreciate the time, attention and development invested in them, resulting in key employee retention, which is absolutely necessary to ensure the effectiveness of succession plans.

Succession plans vary by company, business plan, and the availability of talented employees.  However, every succession plan should follow some basic strategies:

  • Monitoring Future Needs – Tomorrow’s key roles may not even exist in today’s organization
  • Talent Assessment – Develop a way to identify your most talented employees
  • Hire for the Gaps – Identify the roles that are beyond the capabilities of your current employees and hire to fill those skill gaps
  • Share Your Plan – Key employees should understand early in their careers the special path you have put them on and the importance of the role they are being developed to fill
  • Use Available Technology – Track and monitor the training and development of high potentials
  • Create Developmental Opportunities – Seek out education that offers executive training and mentoring
  • Measure Performance – Challenge your key employees, but measure them fairly as you are asking them to stretch beyond normal expectations

Remember, effective succession planning is a journey, not a destination. Once you have the plan in place, it requires constant and consistent monitoring for adjustments and improvements as the organization changes over time.

If you need further information or assistance with succession planning for your organization, contact Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Director of HR Services, at (919) 878-9222, (336) 668-7746 or

Photo Source: madebytess