Succession Planning Mistakes

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How To Do Succession Planning Right

How To Do Succession Planning The Right Way

Talent Management Magazine recently wrote an article, “How to Do CEO Succession Planning Right,” in which the sudden departure of Best Buy’s CEO was discussed and that it was going to take six to nine months for the company to find a replacement. The reality is, Best Buy shouldn’t need this much time–nor can they really afford to take this much time–to find another CEO. An organization of their size should have had high potential employees identified and a succession plan in place. However, instead of using talent grids and building out replacement strategies, Best Buy is now facing serious succession problems, not to mention potential loyalty and engagement problems.

When done correctly,  succession planning creates a list of “ready now” employees. But even the best plans can create succession problems. Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate your organization’s current plan or start to build one from scratch.

You Must Have Current, Relevant Job Profiles for All Key Positions

This is where Best Buy probably started falling down a very slippery slope. Before you can even start to select high potential employees for your succession plan, you must first know what skills and standards are associated with the roles you’re looking to create successors for. A combination of tools and people are necessary to help you identify specific leadership and functional competencies for key roles and provide support to potential leaders to meet these criteria. Using tools, such as our application Talent Successor, you can build talent pools based on people or roles and create specific career development roadmaps to facilitate progression from role to role.

Now that you know the skills necessary to get the job done, it’s time to start identifying high potential employees.



Succession Planning Shouldn’t Reward the “Popular” Over the “Competent”

We’ve all seen it happen before–the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in this case, the fun-loving, outgoing employee is recognized as the obvious choice to succeed someone. Succession planning isn’t something that should be based on your gut or an employee’s hallway reputation. By doing this, you’re only going to create succession problems for your organization. It’s imperative that your organization recognize high potential employees by using tools such as talent grids. By doing so, you remove the emotional attachment to the individual and get a clear picture as to where they fall so you can quickly assess, select, and develop your internal talent to take over when needed.

Succession Planning Isn’t a One-Hit Wonder You Address Annually

Now that you’ve identified your high potential employees, it’s imperative that you build plans for them so they’re prepared to take over when necessary. It’s your organization’s job to make sure a plan exists to help your successors develop. For each competency gap you’ve discovered, you must identify programs and strategies to close the gap so you aren’t faced with succession problems if an executive leaves suddenly. Simply identifying high potential employees and updating the list at an annual planning meeting won’t cut it. A succession plan and development plan must be put in place, and revisited throughout the year.

By simply taking these three nuggets and implementing them into your succession planning, you’ll be on the right track to creating a succession strategy and hopefully will keep your company from facing the same succession problems as Best Buy.


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