Reactionary Succession Doesn’t Work

Not sure about you, but I LOATHE being reactionary. Lately, it seems that I am operating very often from behind and not in front…not being ahead of the ball. I feel that most companies operate from the same standpoint. A huge job comes in or a revenue stream dries up, and companies scatter to only then create a very shoddy, band-aid version that resembles nothing of the quality of work normally produced. Proactive planning often gets overlooked due to the reactionary tasks we are currently involved in!

The same reactionary methods occur when an employee unexpectedly is no longer with an organization or rapid growth which causes new job roles needing to be filled. Companies rush to take a look at who is the best “option” out of the current employee pool. Then, after a few months, the employee is burnt out because of the increased workload, lack of knowledge and training which puts companies right back at the starting line again…. reacting! 

I am sick and tired of seeing this merry-go-round occur! 

So, how do we fix it? How do we become proactive within the organization to prepare ourselves for the unforeseen and foreseen? 

One of the causes to this reactionary behavior is the dreaded phrase…’COMFORT ZONE’. Managers are happy doing exactly what they have been doing for years, and anything more will require more effort and work from them. Being proactive, requires forward thinking, planning, and training. It will always be that manager who stresses and blows a gasket when the unexpected happens. 

In my opinion, the best way to prepare is to constantly evolve with succession planning and identifying. 

Alex Clark, SHRM-SCP says that the first step in developing a succession plan is to determine which roles to focus on and then, break them into two categories: short term and long term. Short term includes anything which would prevent the service or product from being delivered to customers and in turn, stalling revenue. Long term includes needs of the business, internally, to develop employees to execute Company strategy. 

The second step in succession planning is to find and identify the current employees who might be capable of stepping into a new role. During employee evaluations, managers need to have conversations around what areas an employee need or want developed to prepare them for future opportunity. Create advancement paths with timelines and training tools needed to ensure successful training. Managers need to begin to mentor employees who show an interest in advancement. Mentoring is a time commitment and should only be done with genuine and sincere interest. Employees can sense when a manager is not ‘all-in’ on them which results is an uninterested employee.  Develop collaborative cultures where cross-training and job shadowing are a part of the system. 

Now, I do understand not all circumstances can be foreseen such as a death of key employee. However, most reactionary events can be foreseen if we chose to look for the cues around us. As leaders and managers, we need to be constantly identifying those signals and cues our employees give us daily! For instance, Joe was told for a year that he was going to be promoted to construction manager. Nine months after first hearing about promotion, Joe becomes discouraged, work is not his best quality, and his attitude around co-workers is argumentative. A few weeks before the one-year mark, Joe quits. 

SHRM has identified common mistakes in succession planning: 

  • Failure to set reasonable employee expectations. 
  • Failure to see employee input.
  • Failure to be inclusive.
  • Failure to thoroughly vet potential successors.
  • Failure to have enough candidates. 
  • Failure of leaders to take an active role.

Succession planning is being proactive with the success of your company and employees. It is about always looking forward. It will ever be ongoing and evolutionary. As your company grows, so does the need for identifying growth in all areas…not just management. Don’t wait till its too late. Grow your company from inside out!

Marcie’s book recommendation: “Propeller” By Tanner Corbridge, Jared Jones, Craig Hickman, and Tom Smith

Marcie Richardson

With over 20 years of HR experience, Marcie understands the struggles companies face in compliance regulation and policy structure. She recognizes that effective company culture and policies start with how we treat employees. As the Director of Human Resources for Guarantee Restoration Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she values the need for a strong company culture to ensure operational continuity. Marcie obtained her IICRC in WRT and ASD because she believes to truly understand the needs of each employee, you need to understand their job. Marcie also holds a Louisiana Department of Insurance License in Health, Life & Accident.

Hey there! We're glad you're here!

This content is only available for subscribers. Please enter your email below to verify your subscription.

Don't worry! If you are not a subscriber, simply enter your email below and fill out the information on the next page to subscribe for FREE!

Back to homepage