Succession Planning Best Practices
A great many experts have sought to define a fool-proof process for selecting and preparing new leaders, particularly when it comes to CEO succession planning. There are variations among these practices, but one common element is the need for training and transfer of critical skills and knowledge. Unfortunately, this is often where companies fall short.
Tremendous effort is put into the selection process, but when it comes to transitions, few organizations have the tools they need to set their new leaders up for success.
Succession Planning Process
At the Steve Trautman Co. we have developed a structured knowledge transfer process designed specifically for leaders who possess not just institutional knowledge, but soft skills and key relationships that are sometimes hard to quantify and pass on. Here’s how we approach it.
Step 1: Define & Prioritize Knowledge Areas
To start, we engage your team in a simple, but highly structured Q&A to identify your departing executive’s unique knowledge areas. Within an hour we can chart these results in a simple matrix, so you can prioritize the knowledge areas that present the highest risk to your business. The prioritization drives what knowledge will be transferred first and to whom. It is often best to work with multiple successors so that the risk is spread across several people.
Step 2: Break Down Priority Areas into Teachable Tasks
Through one-on-one interviews, we get deep into the executive’s valuable tacit knowledge and experience, helping them break down their knowledge areas into specific tasks that can be taught in an hour. From there, we create Skill Development Plans that lay out the tasks in priority order to guide successor(s) as they get up to speed.
Step 3: Transfer Knowledge
Within as little as one or two business days, you gain a thorough plan that effectively uses each available hour between project kickoff and the executive’s last day to transfer high priority knowledge. Execution of the plan may be spread over weeks or months at the discretion of the team and involves structured and highly efficient sessions between the executive and their successors. Our facilitators remain on hand to monitor early sessions and troubleshoot throughout.
Step 4: Test & Measure Knowledge Transfer
We give your team a set of knowledge transfer test questions—a hallmark of our process—that quickly measures whether knowledge was transferred successfully. They reveal if the successor will meet the standard needed to perform independently. We also help the incoming successor develop a list of existing resources (e.g. documentation, contacts, samples, templates, etc.) that will be available after the departing executive’s last day.
Succession Planning Tools
All our clients will have access to our suite tools that have been used to transfer knowledge among thousands of experts and leaders. These tools include our:
- Knowledge Silo Matrix, which defines the areas where your leader holds critical expertise and helps identify likely successors.
- Skill Development Plans, which break down a leader’s tacit knowledge and skills into tangible tasks that can be taught in an hour each.
- Knowledge Transfer Test Questions, which confirm that successors have learned necessary skills and measure overall progress.