Rich sat down at his desk and looked over all the paperwork. He had just completed a three-month process of planning his retirement. After 30 years in the industry, he was going to step down and treat his wife to all the trips they had to put off because of the business. He was comfortable with the decision; it was time.
Standing up and looking at the view from his window, his mind wrestled with a quandary. Who would take over for him? He picked a date when he would begin his retirement, and it was a full year from now. That gave him time to figure out who would succeed him, but he also knew proper planning and implementation takes time. He had a few men and women as department heads and thought one of them could step up, but he wasn’t sure who. He pulled out his phone and speed dialed Harry, his predecessor and mentor.
Rich shared with Harry when he answered the call, “I am going to announce my retirement this afternoon. It will be effective a year from now. You know our current succession plan has brought in some bad apples — any suggestions which of the vice presidents would be best to take my place?”
Harry was quiet for few seconds as if he were pondering on the question. Harry answered, “For the last few months, my executive staff and I have implemented NOW Power in our thought processes, interactions and decision making. By factoring our decisions through its process, we have achieved success in several areas, including succession planning. Its principles apply to everything you do in the company. I can be your sounding board as you decide who to elevate to CEO, but mindfulness laced with emotional intelligence and leadership will lead you to the correct choice.”
Succession planning is a key to any business or organization.
Rich’s dilemma is not unusual. It not only applies to the CEO but anyone with primary responsibility in a company. All teams crave consistency. Stability lowers the anxiety of employees and customers. It allows the company to march toward its goals without veering away from its strategic plan.
Therefore, replacing key people when they move out of their position is so important. Unfortunately, not many organizations have devised a strategic approach for succession planning. Too often, succession can be colored by biases and friendships. In our scenario, Rich has a year to come up with his successor. Quite often, you might have a month (if that) to fill a critical position. Especially hard hit when it comes to succession planning are family-owned businesses when you either run out of a family or the family members aren’t interested in working in the company.
The ideal way to prepare for succession planning and talent development is to plan for it as you would for any critical processes in the enterprise. It is also important that your business’ philosophy and culture are essential considerations in succession planning. The plan will provide stability and continuity that will give everyone who interacts with the organization confidence that things are under control.
Succession Planning Elements
The first step is to determine the challenges, industry trends and development needs an organization will face in the next five to seven years. Based on this detailed analysis, define the criteria for competencies, experiences, vision and emotional intelligence you would like to see in the successor. The second step is to develop a pool of internal executives that possess most, if not all, of the criteria you established. The third phase is the selection of the successor.
Here is where NOW Power steps into the selection process. In short, the concept stands for employing the power of presence without judgments as you ‘walk the talk’ with grace and giving. It helps you identify your fundamental core values and use them to guide your decisions as you align your intentions with actions. When you mindfully plan and implement the succession planning process, it ensures that the company’s values guide all decisions related to replacing key personnel.
The process also promotes working with a high degree of emotional intelligence and mindfulness at all times — no matter a person’s responsibility. When adhering to this standard, a person is going to sharpen and develop his or her leadership skills. Creating this foundation gives you a dynamic pool from which to find plausible candidates.
By implementing a value-driven plan throughout an organization, you can be certain that the successor will take ownership of the position and will continually be learning. Because you have the three-pronged approach of analysis, defining the criteria, and the mindful process, you will ensure that the job is the right fit for the successor, as well as the successor being the right fit for the job. When you are weighing one candidate against another, the system propels you to select the best person who walks the talk of the organization.
Some companies require that certain positions are filled with external candidates to augment an organization’s expertise. Mindful leadership equips you to present a comprehensive view of the organization to the candidate and develop a process to get the complete picture of the external candidate. You will not only look at the candidate’s education and experience, but also learn their values to ensure that they dovetail with the company’s.
The standard is not the tiebreaker between people with similar qualifications. It should be the first filter you use in sorting candidates. Whether you are looking for a CEO, a CFO or a department head, you want that person to be aligned with the organization’s values. You can have the most talented person in the world come in for a position, but if they do not reflect the values of the business or organization, you are going to be in for a bumpy, chaotic ride that may not be in the best interest of the enterprise.
The article first published on Forbes.
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