Joe is leaving! Now what are we going to do?


OK Joe is going. He has been a good and loyal employee and has been offered a fantastic opportunity. Our best wishes go with him!

Right, time to activate the Succession Plan!

What’s that?  You don’t have one or did have but let it die on the vine?

Sound familiar?  This scenario got me thinking about succession planning recently and just how unprepared most organisation’s are when their Joe or Jo has decided to leave.

So why do Succession Plans too often fail? Recently, I came across an article by David Clutterback who has been doing some preliminary research on this issue and I’ll summarise some of his early findings.

Basically David contends key reasons behind the failure of most organisations to successfully manage the succession process are that the plans:

  • Fail to take into account that research shows that line managers perceptions are the least reliable predictor of future leadership potential.
  • Falsely assume that high performance in one role is a clear indicator of high potential in another.
  • Tend to be rooted in inflexible competency frameworks that don’t take sufficient stock of changing job demands.
  • Are overly reliant on clear and precise job descriptions, ignoring the fact that talented employees quickly shape the position to their own interests and strengths. He further points out how often we ask a candidate “What can you bring to this role, that’s different?” and then place the successful applicant in the position’s straightjacket discarded by the previous incumbent.
  • Assume the job role is relatively stable yet in reality most jobs evolve rapidly in line with technology, contractual arrangements etc.
  • Work on the assumption employees will remain for the long term when the length of job tenures are in steady decline.
  • Don’t sufficiently take into account the differences in attitudes towards careers and career management between generations (a topic for a future post I think)

David makes some excellent points that I am sure we all can identify with many of them. Cause and Effective offers a broad range of Succession Planning Services that are designed to avoid the pitfalls mentioned above but more fundamentally aim to make the succession planning process something that is done with employees rather than to them. If you think we may be able to improve your succession planning outcomes drop us a line.

Author: Chris Gandy, Director, Cause and Effective

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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