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C-Suite Advisory

Building Your Bench: 5 Strategies For Powerful Succession Planning

It’s Back – The War On Talent!  The challenge to find and build a great team.  Business is booming – the global market is ripe with opportunity. And while that is good news, it means for those of us in leadership positions, finding, developing and retaining top talent can be tough.

And when finding, developing and retaining top talent is tough, succession planning can be darn near impossible.  At a time when we have a record number of experienced leaders leaving and retiring from the workforce, we are woefully short on experienced leaders to take their place.

In the past, succession planning was something that was nice for a company to have, a bonus for those organizations that could afford the extra training and development. But today, if you are not growing your own talent, if you are not developing your next level leaders, then you are going to find yourself on the losing end of the War on Talent!

Understand in this economy the only thing that is differentiating you from your competition is the level of talent you have working for you. Think about it, there is not one single product or service you offer that your competitors don’t already offer, couldn’t offer or won’t offer.

And in an economy where customers can buy products or services anywhere, any time and from anybody it’s the service, the experience that your customer’s are looking for, that is what they are willing to pay for. And controlling the customer experience, and building your reputation is one-hundred percent dependent on the level of talent you have in your organization.

Now here is the good new, as the leader, owner or person-in-charge you are in control of the talent you have in your organization, and the depth of succession planning you have in place. All you have to do is make it happen. Wanting a succession plan and actually building one are definitely not the same things. Here are five innovative succession-planning strategies to get you started:

5 Strategies For Powerful Succession Planning 

Own it – Make it your job, as the leader, to develop talent and create a succession plan.  All too often talent development and succession planning are delegated to the role of human resources or middle management. While both of those departments need to be involved, if you want Succession Planning to happen in your business than you need to make it your priority. Take ownership, and understand that what you place value on in your organization is what will happen.

Know What You Need – When it comes to talent and Succession Planning you need to know what and who you need. You don’t just need to fill positions, you need to fill positions with people who are the right fit and bring the right value to your organization. Before you start your succession plan you need to take inventory – what talent do you have, what do you need, what new talent would add value?

Graph It – The most important part of succession planning is about ensuring you promote and develop the right people.  And to develop the right people you need to define what “the right” person is for your business. Jack Welch – the legendary leader of General Electric – used to use a powerful graph to determine who the right people are.

On the left side of the graph Jack (yes I am going to call him Jack) he lists values. The values for his company, and  also what he wants in his leaders.  On top of the graph he puts the production, meaning the level to which they help the company achieve their goals.  The A;s – share the values and are productive; The B’s are productive but lack the values; C’s share your values but struggle to produce; and D’s well you have to wonder what you are doing employing them at all.

Graphing your employees ensures you are building your succession plan with those team members who share your values and are productive. This is key for ensuring your succession plan is promoting the right leaders.

Develop it – Once you know who you are going develop, you need to actually develop them. Meaning you have to invest in finding out what skills they need, and then provide the training to ensure they get them.  This will take time, money and resources so you need to be prepared to invest. Seems risky right?  What will it cost? What is they leave? Remember, if you commit to a strong talent develop and succession plan, no matter who stays or goes in your organization you will always get back more than you invest.

Own It – Last but not least, you again have to again Own It. A succession plan is not something that you start and stop, it is a ongoing process. An ongoing process that you have to own! As the leader, the one who is placing value on this process, your team needs to see you engaged, involved and actively participating. If they believe it matters to you, it will matter to them.

In today’s marketplace, there is no better investment of your time and energy then talent development and succession planning. If are looking for an innovative way to stand out from your competition, then invest in these five strategies to build your succession plan.


Written by: Meridith Elliott Powell.

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Meridith Elliott Powell

Meridith Elliott Powell

Contributor at CEOWORLD magazine
Meridith Elliott Powell is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and business strategist. Meridith worked her way up from an entry-level position to earn her seat at the C-Suite table.
Meridith Elliott Powell

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