BY SUZANNE ORTON HR Consultant
twitter-handle-suzanneorton

Succession Planning

I’ve heard stories, I’m sure you have too, of organisations who have found themselves in very difficult circumstances due to an unexpected event involving senior leaders or key stakeholders within the business. Imagine your Company bank accounts have been frozen due to the unexpected and immediate loss of the Finance Director (and only authority on your banking)… Or a considerable drop in sales following your CEO leaving due to ill-health… The list could go on!

These scenarios are all very close to home for our team at Friary West, as I’m sure some will already know.  In January this year, our founder and Managing Director Heather Matheson, held a meeting to confirm that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer with only 12 weeks to live. This meeting was the most harrowing and devastating that I believe (and hope) I will ever be a part of!

The business had no succession plans, Heather was the heart that pumped the blood through our organisation. Despite dealing with her illness, Heather moved fast to put in place preparations and equip the team to continue the business without her…

  • We brought in an amazing Business Coach, Peter Cordrey, and re-visited the business objectives, services and vision in a world without Heather.
  • She headhunted her successor, Zoe Wilson, who joined us in May.
  • We spoke to each and every one of our contacts and clients regarding the situation we were in and reassured them that we would still be around to support them and their organisations in the future.

So what should businesses be thinking about when preparing for the expected or unexpected?

#1 Identify the roles that are critical for the organisation and need succession plans…
Think about roles that are truly integral to the running of and success of the organisation.  A great place to start here is the senior team. Focus only on the roles identified that could make or break the organisation!

#2 Who are the right successors…?
Is the perfect successor already a part of your organisation or will you need to recruit externally for the skill set and behaviours? Both internal and external hires can have their advantages and only you can know what is right for your organisation.

#3 How will you support the transition…?
Knowing the knowledge and skills that the successor needs to develop are key to effectively supporting the transition.  The learning and development can be supported by many different interventions, and it is key to identify which really fits best and where, such as internal coaching and mentoring where the sharing of organisational knowledge is required or external training or qualifications where specific knowledge is required and the resources inside the organisation are unsuitable or already at capacity.

If you would like to explore implementing succession plans in your organisation, get in touch with our team on 01621 730824, we’d love to talk with you.