Take our free Leadership Assessment
Liz Weber Blog Header

Succession Planning – Your Next Big Project

Succession Planning: Your Next Big Project

Every day, there are stories in the media discussing the importance of succession planning, yet many of us business owners aren’t paying heed. According to a global study released by Korn Ferry International, “40% or less of organizations today have a capable CEO-in-waiting.” Also, according to a report released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), four out of ten small to medium-sized business owners intend to retire and exit their businesses within five years. This number is expected to increase to seven in ten over the next ten years. In addition, the CFIB report states that only 35% of these business owners has any type of succession plan. What I find most troubling about this is, those who do have a succession plan, most often have an informal, unwritten plan that has not been shared with the intended successor!

So, do we really need a succession plan?

Yes. Take a look at what McDonald’s experienced in 2004. Their CEO, Jim Cantalupo died suddenly of a heart attack in early 2004. Because they had a solid succession plan in place, Charlie Bell was named CEO the next day, and their stock price rose — because this incredibly smooth transition, in the face of disaster, calmed the investment markets. (If they can handle this type of crisis with such aplomb, they certainly can handle other business issues well too…) However, Mr. Bell was diagnosed with terminal cancer in November and died shortly thereafter, so Vice Chair Jim Skinner took over as CEO. Again, this transition had minimal disruption to the corporation in the face of yet another tragedy.

OK, but does this apply to you and me since our companies are far from being global enterprises like McDonald’s?

It applies to us as well. This is not an exercise reserved for the large conglomerates. What would happen to your business if you were involved in a tragic accident after you left work today? You are injured so seriously – or worse – that you will never return to work. What will happen to your company? If your answer is: “My business would close” or “I don’t even what to think about that,” you need to think about succession planning. I’ve experienced personally and professionally, sudden tragic losses of family members, business colleagues, and friends because of illnesses and fatal accidents. No one likes to think about tragic situations, but they do occur and it’d be nice to allow your business to continue to provide for your employees, customers, and vendors alike.

However, succession planning need not just address the tragic situations.

It most often addresses the natural attrition of staff. We baby-boomers are edging ever-closer to retirement. We hold most of the senior spots in management and other key positions within our organizations. Who are we training as our replacements as we and others on our team retire, move into new positions, or leave our organizations? Succession planning also, is not an exercise to just focus on the top spots. It’s also an exercise to ensure that key positions throughout the organization have replacements in-the-pipeline learning the ropes and gaining relevant experience so they can take over when we and others leave.

If I’ve made you a believer on its necessity, here are a few Succession Planning pointers to make this project a bit easier and more successful:

  1. Ensure the CEO/Senior Management team is intimately involved and supportive
  2. Link the Succession Plan directly to the Strategic Plan
  3. Continuously monitor the Plan and the development of staff in-the-pipeline
  4. Combine work experience, training, mentoring, special assignments, and web-based activities for future organizational leaders
  5. Keep the plan as simple and straight-forward as possible

If you’ve taken the time to plan your company’s finances, marketing efforts, production practices, and sourcing tactics, why haven’t you planned for its future staff and leadership?

It’s time to start your next big project: Succession Planning.


Copyright MMV – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz and her team work with leaders to create focused plans for their organizations’ future. Then they work with the leaders to ensure their plans are implemented effectively.

Liz Weber CMCLiz Weber, CMC CSP

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.


Copyright © Weber Business Services, LLC All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “Succession Planning – Your Next Big Project”

  1. Alan Kay says:

    I tell leaders that succession planning isn’t just about them, but about a way of thinking throughout the organization. All teams need to be thinking of succession planning as a people development opportunity.

    1. You provide perfect guidance Alan. Thank you once again for taking the time to read and comment on my article.

  2. Debbie Halvorson says:

    I was approached a couple of weeks ago by an Executive Search committee for a CEO position for a non profit. The position has been open since December, 2011. You would have thought they would have had a plan ready. One of their current employees are serving as the Acting CEO. I was very excited by the opportunity but never even made it past the Executive Search firm interview on the phone. Another position I was asked to applied for was a “CEO in waiting”. The CEO isn’t even leaving for six months. Does that prove that one company is more organized than the other?

    1. Liz Weber says:

      And I just bet the non-profit has a hard time getting and retaining volunteers……Thanks for sharing your experiences Debbie. Organization #2 obviously has a much more strategic (and organized) leadership team now — and probably — going forward as well. Let me know if you make a move!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Leave A Comment

Posted by Liz Weber CMC on June 5, 2012 in Succession Planning and tagged , , , ,