Archive for July, 2015

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Start Your Succession Process TODAY

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Start Your Succession Process TODAY

Alignment solution: Like the weather, everyone talks about succession but no one (or very few) does anything about it. For the good of your organization, it’s time to dump the excuses and start focusing on what you CAN do rather than on what you think you can’t do.

Recently I facilitated a workshop called “How to Develop and Implement an Effective Succession Process” for a group of executives. All of the participants, who represented a wide range of organization sizes and types, committed to taking action to implement a succession process. Why? Because they learned that there really are no excuses for failing to staff the critical jobs, provide the critical functions, and perform the critical skills that enable their organizations to achieve their mission and remain viable.

I define “effective succession process” as a long-term, systematic process for ensuring a pool of qualified applicants who can hit the ground running when vacancies arise in critical jobs, critical functions, and critical skills throughout an organization. Below are some common excuses for failing to implement an effective succession process, and reasons why they are not credible.

“I don’t have the resources.” A succession process is scalable. That means that whatever the situation in which you find yourself, you use the resources you have at hand while waiting for others to arrive (if and when they do).

“I can’t do everything an effective process requires.” There are elements of a succession process that EVERY organization can implement, regardless of its size or type (e.g., non-profit, public, private). Identify what you can do right now, and what elements can be done in the medium- and long-term. Succession is a process, not an event or task.

“It’s tough to justify resources for things people can’t see.” Educating decision-makers is a key leadership responsibility. Teach them that an organization without an effective succession process is unable to be fully successful in serving its customers and/or achieving its mission.

“I don’t have the time; I’m too busy putting out fires.” EVERY employee has a vested interest in succession, and each one has a role to play. Delegate tasks while retaining overall accountability and responsibility. Your organization’s viability and competitiveness depend on the extent to which it is able to staff critical jobs, provide critical functions, and perform critical skills.

“I’m working on a succession plan.” This is the deadliest excuse. Planning and implementation are two different concepts. Until you put the plan into action, your organization remains vulnerable.

It’s time to stop the excuses and start the implementation. Here are some steps you can begin to take TODAY:

  1. Identify the critical jobs, functions, and skills throughout your organization.
  2. Establish a formal or informal mentoring program.
  3. Create an expansive “big picture” or vision, and work backwards from there to identify what you can do to achieve it. Make that big picture the touchstone for everything you do.
  4. Put in place mechanisms to capture and share institutional knowledge so you’re not constantly re-inventing the wheel.
  5. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you think you cannot.

To see what an ideal succession process might include, take our Succession Process Self-assessment. If you’d like to learn how to identify the critical jobs, functions, and skills in your organization, take a look at our article Organizational Effectiveness Triage.

To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!

SM Icons

© 2015 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.