Corporate Succession Planning


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“Our company is in desperate need of a succession plan. Our owners promised for years that we would have one. He is long on promises and short on answers, we still don’t have one. Any suggestions?”

I don’t know what kind of company that you’re in and I don’t know why you’re in desperate need of a succession plan so I’m just going to say this, there is a tendency for leaders of organizations of companies and your in a company, obviously, to be in denial about the terminal nature of their tenure or their life.

I will tell you that I have worked in at least four organizations in the last two years with at least four probably, that were completely oblivious to this, and now they’re in trouble. I guess it’s good for me, because they’re calling me and I’m helping them, but the fact is, a succession plan is just a path forward. It’s like a fire escape. It’s like an evacuation plan. It’s like, all those kinds of things and so it doesn’t mean we’re not happy with leadership, it doesn’t mean we’re trying to get leadership out, it just means that we need a path so we build certainty in the organization. That’s all it means.

I do have suggestions. I think you have casual conversations with this– whoever it is. You talk about your company so that’s a really big– I don’t know how big your company is, but I think you have conversations at lower levels. If you’re a leader, what’s your succession plan? Are you have you built one? Do you know who’s coming up behind you? Are you creating the next generation of leaders? Are you asking your boss questions about what’s the plan? God forbid, the proverbial get hit by a bus story. I want you to really think through this idea of what you want in it, what does it provide for you and then ask questions and if you’re in a leadership position, just create a simple one.

The number one reason I think organizations don’t have succession plans, because they’re in denial about their own mortality and the future of their organization, so a lot of them just write, “Ah, well, when Frank leaves or Jane leaves, we’ll all work it out.” That’s a terrible thing to do. Number one, ask questions so what is the plan if you got hit by a bus? What would you like me to do first? What would you like me to think about first, so that you can get them thinking about it and then if you have a company that you think has a great succession plan, share that with the people in your organization and see if that helps.

All right, hope that’s helpful.

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