Succession planning strategies have come a long way since the old shortlist method of choosing successors. Here at The Steve Trautman Co., we specialize in developing new succession planning models and strategies. As pioneers in our field, our professionals have helped some of the world’s largest corporations plan and execute succession plans.
This blog post will introduce you to some of the most successful succession planning strategies and frameworks we’ve used, as well as a story from the field so that you can witness the difference that a professional succession strategy can make.
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Easy Succession Planning Strategies
Here is a list of three powerful succession planning practices that your organization can put into action today. Despite their seeming simplicity, our two decades of experience in this industry have demonstrated that these tactics are sadly lacking in most companies.
1. When Succession Planning, Don’t Be Distracted By Job Titles
A mistake that many companies make is only creating succession plans for high-level or C-suite positions. The reality is that where a person exists in your organization and what their pay grade is says little about whether or not they require a succession plan.
Lynchpin experts are those individuals in your organization whose knowledge and expertise make them vital to the smooth running of your company. If they were to suddenly exit the organization, there would be service disruptions and potentially the loss of critical company data.
Experts like this can be found at all points on the corporate ladder — just because someone is on a lower rung doesn’t mean that they aren’t a lynchpin expert.
When it comes to deciding who in your company requires a succession plan, think strategically. Use a knowledge tracking system, like The Steve Trautman Co.’s Knowledge Silo Matrix, to identify the lynchpin experts in your organization. Find them and put a succession plan in place to mitigate the risk of their eventual departure.
2. Be Open to Having More Than One Successor
When companies hire us to help them create a succession plan for an outgoing expert, rarely does the work done by this person match their job description. After running them through our Knowledge Silo Matrix, we routinely find that the expert does an amalgamation of work — a variety of unrelated tasks that they’ve picked up during their time with the company.
This happens because when a person is promoted, it’s common for them to carry forward responsibilities and tasks from their old position. So if a person has been promoted multiple times, some of their work will match their current job title, but a lot won’t.
This makes finding a single successor very difficult. As demonstrated in the succession planning example you’ll read at the end of this blog post, replacing a vacant position like this with a single successor is often set up to fail.
To mitigate this risk, be open to having multiple successors for a single departing expert. One successor inherits the job title and the work tasks strictly associated with that, while the nonrelated tasks are shaved off and delegated to other successors in your organization.
3. Plan to “Edit” The Work Being Done By The Outgoing Expert
When it comes to succession planning, an often overlooked strategy is deciding which work you want to stop once your expert is replaced. Take an active role in deciding which knowledge and tasks you want the expert to transfer to their successor.
Are there outdated practices that you would like to retire? Are certain tasks no longer necessary?
Take advantage of the upcoming succession by strategically thinking about the role and ways that you can improve it during the handover.
Succession Planning Strategy Example
As an example of some of these succession planning frameworks in action, here is a brief case study on a succession plan that we helped develop and execute.
Problem: The Successor Was Going to Fail
Steve Trautman Co. was hired by a global printer corporation to help prepare a succession strategy for a departing executive. The company had already chosen a successor, but they wanted us to prove their work because there was concern that the successor wouldn’t be able to adequately fill the shoes of the departing executive.
We did an analysis using our Knowledge Silo Matrix (KSM) and some of the frameworks outlined above and demonstrated that yes, the successor would indeed fail.
The KSM revealed that the work tasks this executive did were as varied as they were many. He was involved in everything from product design to direct sales and inventory management, and all this in addition to the official work belonging to his job title.
Solution: Editing the Work and Nominating Multiple Successors
To save the situation, our succession planning strategy involved editing the work required by the role so that only necessary skills were transferred to the successor. This streamlined the knowledge transfer process.
We also shaved off any tasks that weren’t required by the job title and selected other individuals in the company to inherit these unrelated tasks — people who were already doing similar work and could easily take on these additional duties.
These two strategies ensured that the successor stepped into a role that had been updated and tailored to match his skills and the job description.
The Steve Trautman Co. Difference
One year after we completed the succession plan above, we followed up with the printer company to measure the results of our work. Thanks to the expertise of our succession plan consultants, both the company and successor were still happy about our work one year later.
If you are looking for professional help with an upcoming succession plan, contact us today.