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Question - My organization should have a succession plan for:

Paul Sturgeon

April 19, 2011

2 Min Read
Talent Talk - Weekly Jobs and Business Blog; Succession planning at all levels
  • a. The Chairman of the Board and the President

  • b. All C-Level Executives

  • c. All Managers

  • d. Every Key Contributor in the Organization

While a., b., and c. are all correct, and where most companies will find themselves, I'm going to tell you that d. is the best answer. We entered a candidate-driven market that really began around 2007. It was interrupted by the major recession of 2009, and while it may be interrupted by future recessions, the structure of this talent market in the U.S. and much of Europe is set for the next 20 years. Those who embrace megatrends such as this, and work to get in front of them, will prosper far beyond those who are passive.

Think about how organizations typically identify and fill open positions. Passively. They wait for a position to open up, either through growth or because someone left, and then begin a search until someone is hired to fill the opening. How much better would it be to have a proactive plan? Best-practice organizations will have periodic discussions around staffing levels, developing internal talent into leadership roles, and identifying potential top managers.

This process is a fantastic opportunity to look forward. Most companies have talented employees who were perfect for the company's product mix 10 years ago. Where is the company headed in the next 3-5 years? This analysis may reveal where there will be skill gaps in the future. Perhaps there are employees who can be groomed or trained to fill these gaps if you plan for them, by giving them developmental assignments, incremental added responsibilities, and additional networking and visibility opportunities.

The bottom line is; do not wait until you have an opening to think about finding the "A Players" for your company. You should have a succession plan for every key contributor, not just senior management. Include in that plan an allowance for planned retirements, new openings created by growth or internal promotion, and typical turnover. For anticipated openings, begin your search at least three months before you need the person to be in place.

Paul Sturgeon is business manager with KLA Industries based in Cincinnati, OH, an executive search firm specializing in plastics and polymer technology. If you have a topic you'd like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for his blog, e-mail Paul at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Paul Sturgeon

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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