In developing a succession plan, is it smart to inform successors that they are indeed, the successors?
There are a lot of pros/cons for informing successors of their status within an organization. Some argue that informing successors can lead to an increase in poaching of high potentials. Others argue that not informing successors can lead to anxiety. Some of the pros of informing successors include communicating openness, motivating employees to further develop themselves, and providing reason behind different development initiatives.
I agree with most that you should definitely tell them and include them in the planning. Make sure everyone is on the same page in order to best move forward.
Whether we like to think so or not, life is a test both in business and in our lives outside the office walls. If your organization has a leadership or management development program, then by all means, those individuals invited into the program will know what is up. As a leader, part of your job is to extend the organizational vision as well your own to everyone else so as to create an engaged workforce. You want the organization to keep moving forward and upward and that will take a new generation educated and immersed in things you are not fully able to work with. If you are smart, you will walk around, talk to those working for the company and listen to your management team and ensure that you are informed about the people and the projects. You can create challenges for rising stars, but do so in a fashion where they will not be able to brag or think something is up. Not until you are ready to name a successor should you say anything. Once you have found that individual, you need to create a succession plan where you will work with them and have them rotate around the organization.
Yes to the question - and to respond to the text after, that is why attorney's draw up non-compete agreements, clauses non-circs non-disclosures to keep things tight within a business. This is a question for a business law attorney who can have the counsel of a intellectual property rights attorney at bay, and perhaps an attorney experienced with trusts, depending upon your business structure and how your assets are protected. This is a Pandora's box question which you need big experts on your team.
I'm curious about how you've made your decisions about who will be your successors. Have you met with the prospective successors to make sure that your plans for them match their career goals? Have you considered providing and assessment to those interested and qualified to see who would be the best fit for the positions that you need to fill? If you're clear about who will be your successors and the process for this decision making seems fair to the employees, I think an open approach is the best way to go.
It's smart to inform successors if you want to exhibit transparency, foster cooperation, and maintain the success of the enterprise.
If someone can be poached, they weren't committed to the position you were going to offer them in the first place. Knowing that they are being groomed for a higher position may also be a motivator to stay with the organization.
Also, if a position is particularly complex, it's a smart move to create a long-term structure wherein the successor is gradually trained in the skills of his/her predecessor, along with doing some shadowing before the position is made vacant.
It is inappropriate to inform the successors mainly becoz there cud demoralize the other team members who are already into the race..
In my view, let the team be nurtured and the Leader should be placed spontaneously without giving them to discuss and resist.
I think it is important to inform them but prior to this let others who may think that it is them know first then explain why the decision was made in clear terms. Be confident in your decision. Letting them know and having steps set for the transaction will be important.
Yes. Then they can start acting like leaders and if they don't, you can prune them.
Hi Michael, I would argue for definitely telling successors of what you're planning. I believe that REAL leadership is born through transparency and strategy. Yes of course a person might feel nervous or a little anxious, but this is also one way to find out for sure if they're the right person for the job, if they are not really right for the position its better you know sooner than later. Luke
The answer depends on whether you are considering a private family company, a private non-family company or a quoted public company.
For a private family company, the successor(s) should be chosen and prepared for succession several years before the expected changeover date. A last minute choice usually results in the failure and subsequent sale or liquidation of the company because the successor has not been sufficiently instructed on how to manage and to own a company. The learning curve should include not only how to manage the company but how to be an owner. In the latter capacity, the successor should attend meetings to discuss shareholders agreements, wills, trusts etc..
For a private company, the successor should be chosen and informed about six months to a year before the planned change over. He or she should also be told that the succession will not be automatic but will be competitive as the board will also be looking for an outsider to take the job if the "successor" proves to be not up to the job. In the meantime, the successor should be given additional responsibilities by which he or she can satisfy the board that he or she can be relied upon to manage the whole company efficiently and profitably.
For a public company, the process should be the same as for a private company. In fact, if a public company does not have an established succession plan, shareholders will be concerned and this could have adverse effect on the share price.
In the latter two cases, there is always the possibility that good employees, marked as successors, may be poached by competitors. In fact, if competitors would not wish to employ them, they probably are not much good. However, the choice to leave is always with the employee and it is better to find out sooner rather than later whether or not they can be relied upon to stay with the company. It is better to increase the remuneration of the successor if they are worth it rather than to lose a potential successor at the moment of planned change over.
In summary, successors should always be informed and then trained and motivated to do the job to the best of their ability. If it seems doubtful that this can be achieved, then it is better to use headhunters to search for a replacement.
I cannot imagine not telling a potential successor, particularly as part of the overall career planning process. Why would I want to keep it a secret? Potential successors need to understand their career options, and share in the management of their respective careers. To exclude them from the planning process implies the organization owns the responsibility of managing the staff's careers.
First you have to see if there is only one potential successor. There may be other contenders. In the first case you have atleast some degree of confidence, that the person is the pick among others. It is okay to communicate in the first instance. Secondly, you need to be absolutely certain that such opportunity for succession exists, though some timing uncertainties may exist. If there are preconditions attached, they should also be stated upfront. For example, the candidate may have to achieve certain results as a qualifier, may be a 360 degree survey may be required for assessing general acceptibility, may be performance could be under observation for a period or they may have to attend a training/ devlopment program. Most important factor in a manager employee realtionship is clarity, honesty and fairness. When you communicate, you motivate the person to step and look forward to make it to the driver's seat. As long as certain conditions are known that are attached to the succession, no one will mind if they fail to make the grade within the specified time. They will know that they need more time. But in case succession doesn't happen due to factors not known earlier, a good person will be wasted. Communicating in such instance will be seen as a bad thing in hind sight. Also the succession cadidate should be put through some mentorship once your intent is clear.
Well there is no point in creating a list and putting it up on the notice board but then there is a need to let them know as well. I think it is better if give them an idea or a hint that they are doing well and if they keep up the good work they have a good chance of being promoted or handed additional responsibilities.
You just need to make sure that it is not said out loud and in an official way to everyone. If they are smart enough they will understand if they are not, they are not smart enough to be in the succession plans :)
I would say yes. If for no other reason than you don't spend a lot of time setting someone up for something you find out they have no interest in doing or they bail on you before the succession is complete.
I get some of the cons, but I can't see a situation where I would set up a succession plan without informing the person.
Absolutely. You'll want to:
1. Inform the successor
2. Inform the team so they aren't surprised
3. Develop training and mentoring for successor so they know what the job entails
4. Have a clear and candid conversation with the successor to ensure they are on board with this plan and that ask them what they think they need to learn to step into that roll.
The answer to this question is situation and organization-dependent. In the context of certain business environments, for specific reasons, it may be more beneficial, not to inform right away about the succession. If, however, the organization reflects a culture of openness, trust and integrity, then being up front about this important transition would be key to continued positive employee engagement and appreciation - particularly for those in instrumental leadership positions.
Hi Michael - your question, as stated, has an easy answer ... with serious implications re: timing.
Is it smart to inform successors? Absolutely and for all the reasons mentioned below by many other qualified responders.
Timing is key. And it frequently depends on whether the organization is guided by their strategic 'Human Resources', or by reactive 'Personnel' group (true function, not department title). My focus here is on strategic, enlightened HR.
My 35+ years successful leadership experience (from the back room to the Boardroom and as a coach) strongly points to up front transparency. I even encourage enlightened organizations to encourage openness in succession planning right from the new-hire/on boarding stage. That way, everyone is guided by what serves them and the organization best, working together, effectively and consistently, to contribute to each other's growth.
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Since you are in the developing stages of the succession plan you should focus on how you will transition the candidate(s) whom you are considering to succeed the particular position. By notifying this person early, it may indeed disrupt their focus for the position. So to maintain the stability of this opportunity, I would advise that you develop this plan thoroughly and make sure you include how you will train and develop the person(s) further along until it is time for them to step into this position fully. You want to make sure you bring this person into the position with the understanding of their responsibilities and expectations. For more information, feel free to contact me for further discussion. Thanks.
Timing is everything. Succession is most successful when there is a plan with time that is not rushed but does not linger. It takes a plan but makes sure the gaps are least likely be compromised and also have a communication ring that works down and around the organization. I'd warn it doesn't matter as much which choices you make for who knows what when so long as they are your choices.