Succession planning before the funeral

Like funeral arrangements, succession planning can be an endeavor that people try to postpone by ignoring it.

The fact is that succession planning is always important for any organization because even in good times something unexpected can happen.

During the recent AICPA Not-For-Profit Executive Forum, Mark Steranka of Moss Adams Consulting offered several tips for getting started with succession planning and getting the most out of it. Steranka suggested the following key points:

  • Develop a plan. Include the human capital component of the strategic plan. Address recruitment and development of employees as well as the importance of management succession in the future of the organization, such as who is included in the plan and what elements comprise the management succession program.
  • Start early. Develop future leaders at multiple levels. Jumpstart the process. Evaluate the senior management team and managers at least one level below that. Understand the organization’s recruiting and retention track record.
  • Create options. Develop multiple successor candidates for each key position. Learn from the high potential programs used by large companies.
  • Take a long view. Don’t confuse management succession with ownership transition.
  • Communicate intent. Eliminate uncertainty that is destructive to employee morale. Employees tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, so communicate transparently and clearly the plans that are in place for management succession.