4 Problems With Putting Off Succession Planning

What are your organization’s talent risks and needs?

This is the fundamental question of succession planning. Often there’s a disconnect between organizations knowing they need a succession plan and taking the steps required to develop one. Typically, this is because when it comes to succession planning, organizations either don’t know what to do, don’t have time to do it, don’t have enough resources to allocate toward it or they’re afraid of it.

But, if you want to remain competitive, ensure your ability to grow and nurture your top talent, your organization needs to stop procrastinating and get serious about succession planning. If you don’t, you’re inviting these four problems.

1. Creating a Significant Burden

Developing a succession plan for your organization requires you to take a good hard look at the risks you could face if you were to lose key players to illness, attrition, rapid promotion or organizational expansion. For example, when a key player gets sick and has to be out for an extended period — or for good, it’s a huge burden if you aren’t prepared to operate without her.

Think about it. If all the knowledge, experience and relationships that key player possesses goes on sick leave with her, there’s going to be a fallout. Not having a succession plan in place to proactively address this risk opens your organization up to disruptions in operations and employee relationships, and can create uncertainty about the future.

2. Hampering Growth

Consider you’re a company and you’re positioned for growth; you’re doing really well in the market and you want to expand. If you don’t have bench strength and a pipeline of talent to choose from, it’s not going to happen quickly or efficiently.

Let’s say you wanted to expand to an additional location. First, you’d need to identify an employee who has the skills and experience necessary to deal with the ambiguity that can arise at a new location and who understands your organization’s goals, vision and culture. Second, you’d need to identify a high-potential employee and groom him for the transferring employee’s position. If you aren’t ready to take these steps right out the gate, you’ll either face coverage gaps or you simply won’t be able to expand and respond to your market opportunity successfully.

3. Increasing the Risk You’ll Lose Top Talent

If your organization doesn’t offer opportunities for growth, you’re going to lose its top talent. Employees, especially young ones, are looking for growth and development opportunities; they want to learn new skills and take on bigger challenges.

Companies with succession plans are grooming talent and placing employees in stretch positions that offer real opportunities to learn. If you aren’t doing that, you run the risk of losing your best people to organizations that are.

4. Operating an Unsustainable Organization

Employees want to know senior management is doing succession planning because they want to know they’re working for an organization that will be around next week and for years to come. Succession planning sends employees the message senior leadership is focused on their development as well as the organization’s bench strength and sustainability.

You Must Match Your People Strategy to Your Business Strategy

A good succession plan aligns your people strategy with your business strategy and ensures your employees’ needs will be met without encountering too many gaps and risks while driving your business strategy forward.

If you’re at risk to lose key people who are important to your organization’s strength and strategy, or if you don’t have the people you need because of retirement, illness, growth or rapid promoting, you’re at risk. Creating a succession plan is a proactive way to address and mitigate those risks.

Succession planning is our specialty, so contact us if you need help going through the process or read our white paper for more practical advice:

Succession Planning: A Step-By-Step Guide

Success Labs is a full-service, strategic organizational and leadership development company located in Baton Rouge, La. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.