What do you do when a key member of your team announces they’re making a career move? Are you prepared to fill that position? Can you readily identify the value and contributions that individual provided you and your organization, and do you have a replacement in mind?

The key to sustained competitive advantage in any industry is not size, image, or technology. It’s talent, particularly at the leadership level. Your organization’s future depends on its ability to identify, retain, and prepare a dependable “bench”–its next generation of leaders–continuously.
–Dr. Robert W. Barner

As more and more “baby boomers” retire or change jobs, is your organization prepared to lose their tenured, mature, and knowledgeable workforce?

Leadership talent is one of the most critical needs of any organization and a strategic approach for succession planning is required.

Ask yourself:

  • What challenges is your organization currently facing?
  • What skill-set and experience is needed to address the gaps?
  • Do you prefer positions be filled internally before seeking external candidates?
  • Does having a blend of internal and new hires provide innovative and fresh ideas?
  • Are you utilizing cross training to build bench strength?
  • How often (and to whom) do you delegate assignments and responsibilities to?
  • Could having a coach speed up the development process?

Look outside of your immediate team.

What interactions do you have with other leaders? Can you work jointly to develop a succession planning process?

Do you have shared business strategies, directions, and critical positions?

Are you able to provide names of possible successors for critical positions? (These positions may not need to be filled now, but you will be building your bench strength and be positioned to act quickly should you find the need).

Make sure the candidates understand the vision of the organization they’ll be part of. That includes clearly defined roles, responsibilities, expectations, and what they’ll be measured against.

Would assigning a mentor help clarify the role and facilitate growth? We once had a leader that was targeted for a promotion and shared that he had no interest, whatsoever, in ever having the position that others felt he was strongly suited for!

If it’s an external hire, what kind of on-boarding process do you have in place?

For both internal and external candidates, identify how they will complement the team. Perhaps all the gaps can’t be addressed by one person; what more is needed?

Succession planning and career development require time, but the pay-offs will serve you well.

Are you prepared?