The New Rules of Succession Planning | strategy + business

Talent Management

As many firms rethink their approaches to succession planning (SP), this article provides a few ideas to consider. Although the article is on CEO succession, many insights apply to SP in general. The authors, David Reimer and Adam Bryant, point out how boards often fail to pick the best CEO candidate because they focus on the wrong criteria. They offer a three-step plan to overcome challenges encountered in SP. 1) Start with strategy and execution, not individual characteristics, 2) Build a shared framework for assessing and discussing candidates, and 3) Structure the process to mitigate bias. Regarding step one, the succession process begins by answering specific foundational questions about the business, such as What problems does our strategy call for us to solve? Questions like these, or those found in my 2016 article Identifying Leadership Capabilities that Drive Business Performance, can inform leadership capabilities critical to succession. I previously mentioned that one challenge to succession is underdeveloped successorsthose identified as successors but whose development progress stalls or does not pace with succession timeframes. One reason this happens is that firms use general measures for determining readinesssuch as “ready in 2 years,” without critically evaluating successors’ specific development needs. An alternative option for determining readiness could be the “number of development moves away” a successor is to assuming the targeted role. This approach emphasizes the critical experiences needed to accelerate the successor’s readiness and is action-based. Where are there opportunities to speed up successor readiness in your organization in 2022?

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