Three Questions to Help Unravel the Secrets of Succession Planning

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The Secrets of ‘Succession’ Planning

‘Succession’ – a cracking tv series that is rumoured to be based on the Sky Murdoch empire. Dog eat dog. A race for power. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. This brings me to this month’s soft skills topic – Succession Planning.

Still awake?

Not the most interesting of topics and easily ignored, as demonstrated by the fact that most companies don’t have a succession plan. And why should they? With COVID, cost price increases, and a conflict in the East, there are other priorities. Yes, and there always will be.

I’m not here to tell you to begin succession planning and intellectually I know you know why you should have one. My task is to make it easier for you. Starting with 3 simple questions that will ‘get the snowball rolling down the hill’. Let’s start at the top of the company – the board, and the first question…

‘Who Might Leave/Move on/be Promoted?’.

  1. Who is likely to leave the Board level in the next 6 months? Ginger Spice.
  2. Who is likely to leave the Director level in the next 6 months? Sporty Spice.
  3. Who is likely to leave the Senior Management level in the next 6 months? Scary Spice.

Then, the second question:

‘Who Could Take Their Place?’

  1. Who can take Ginger’s place? Paul.
  2. Who can take Sporty’s place? Ringo.
  3. Who can take Scary’s place? George

Then, the third question:

‘What Gaps in Behaviours/Skills do the Succeeding People Have?’.

  1. Paul needs to know how to dance like Ginger Spice.
  2. Ringo needs to play a sport like Sporty Spice.
  3. George needs self-confidence like Scary Spice.

Click on the image below for a larger image:

infographic explaining Succession planning using potential and performance metrics with coloured boxes
Understand Succession planning with our explanatory infographic


Final Words on Succession Planning

No excel, no template and no big plan. An A4 sheet of paper – Your succession plan has begun. Then repeat the 3 questions every quarter, ensuring that the gaps in behaviours and skills are being addressed by the successors with a simple personal development plan. A point to note, sometimes the succession is not about levels.

At Sainsbury’s, we had a cheese grader. Clive. A lovely old guy that knew things about cheese that would compete with Wikipedia. He retired. On the day he did, after 40 years of cheese-ing, people attended a sampling session with him to ‘get his knowledge’. They didn’t. A – That is not good succession planning and B – Some people are critical regardless of their level.

*Note: No band members were harmed in the development of this succession plan.

This article on Succession Planning was written by Darren A. Smith for The Grocer.

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