by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR or business leader you want to create a successful future for the company and the next generation of people who will lead the company.
Given the importance of succession planning to continue the success of the business, it’s a bit surprising that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found the number of U.S. businesses with a formal succession plan in place is less that 25%.
Why Do So Many Avoid It?
SHRM says, “the number one reason organizations are not developing formal succession planning is because more immediate projects are talking precedence – not surprising given that organizations are focusing their energies on dealing with an uncertain economic outlook. Still succession planning has significant strategic implications for organizations and should not be put on the back burner, especially during times of economic volatility.”
However, there’s a lot more behind the avoidance of succession and transition planning than concerns about the economy. Business leaders avoid planning for all of the reasons people avoid change. They opt for the apparent certainty of continuing day-to-day routine rather than planning for an admittedly unfamiliar and uncertain future – hoping things will work out for the best.
Hoping For the Best Is Not the Answer
The best solution to uncertainty is to take some small action and build on it. In other words, start in small doses. Here’s what one of my clients did: The leadership team spent one staff meeting a quarter to answer a key question about the company’s future. Here are some of the questions they focused on.
- How are we navigating the company to a promising future? Do we have a clear destination in sight or is it clouded with uncertainty?
- What changes in the business environment can have impact on us – our industry – our region, etc.? Do we need to do a SWOT?
- What skills, knowledge and capabilities exist inside the company today and what will be needed for our future in 1, 3 or even five years?
- What is our culture today? As we grow or change, does it have to change? What values and beliefs are important to carry forth?
You can develop additional questions that are most relevant for your company. What you want is deep conversation about each question – not let’s get through this as fast as we can. Remember to record the key points and review them at the next meeting before moving on to the next question. The purpose is twofold. Create an awareness and priority for succession planning and keep it on the front, not the back burner.
Smart Moves Tip
If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there. But the “there” could be “nowhere.” Don’t wait until you have more time, more money, more customers, more of whatever. Start now to focus on succession planning. Otherwise you’ll be leaving your future to chance and who knows where your company or organization will end up.