The novel I am writing centers on a family-owned business in which the CEO is suddenly injured and unavailable. He had not developed a succession plan for himself prior to becoming incapacitated. And the business depended on him to resolve the conflicts between his warring staff members.
I’m sure the existence of conflicts between members of a CEO’s staff doesn’t surprise anyone who has worked in any corporate culture for more than a few months. What would happen in your organization if the person responsible for resolving disputes and making decisions were suddenly unavailable?
Conflict management is only one reason for a good succession plan. Succession planning is essential for insuring the continuation of the enterprise – making sure that the right people are ready for critical positions at the right time.
Here are some questions to answer as you consider the succession plan in your organization:
- What are your organization’s strategic goals for the future? How will your workforce need to change to get you there?
- Have you identified the key positions in your company for today and for the foreseeable future? (Needs may change, and your succession plan should anticipate future organizational needs.)
- Have you identified the competencies future leaders will need to have? (What educational, technical, and leadership skills and attributes will be important five years from now?)
- What training and developmental activities will your current staff need to ready them for the leadership roles of the future?
- How will you transition from your current organization to the structure and roles you envision down the road?
- While succession planning is necessary at the top of the organization, how far down should your plan go? Often there are critical technical positions that should be considered as well.
HR and key line officers should discuss these succession issues regularly, and keep the succession plan evolving. Otherwise, your organization will end up as dysfunctional as the company I describe in my novel.