As a Chief People Officer, ensuring your organization has a Succession Planning program in place is critical to Talent Strategy. Succession Planning allows your future leaders the opportunity to see that path ahead and allows your customers to be unaffected by change.

It’s upon us. 10,000 baby boomers are turning sixty-five a day. What does this mean? A massive shift in the work force. It also means a changing of the guard in the ranks of sales and marketing senior management (all management for that matter). A lot of these senior folks are likely some of your most seasoned A players. This also means there will be a tremendous leadership opportunity for your young leaders and blossoming A players.


Companies of all shapes and sizes across every industry will be affected as senior level folks exit the workforce. Even the most steadfast of employees succumb to father time. Many companies will be left reeling as they deal with the repercussions of poor succession planning. As an HR leader, you will be on the hook to answer a few questions. Have you been proactive in your succession planning? Do you have the right people needed to step to the plate?


Download the Succession Planning Template Tool to identify critical roles for a succession plan to be developed, document current incumbent and potential successors, and perform retention risk assessment to determine which roles need to be prioritized.


Where does Succession Planning fit in Talent Strategy?


One of the most critical pieces of SBI’s new talent strategy is Succession Planning. Market leaders succeed because they place the right talent in the right performance conditions and maintain it WITHOUT interrupting the normal course of business. This means market leaders are constantly planning and evaluating where their employees are in their career journey. Structured processes and open dialogue are key to succession planning. New leaders fluidly step into place, as old leaders depart.


SBI’s new talent strategy highlights Succession planning as a major component (it falls under our Performance Management bucket):


  1. Employee Experience (EX) Design
  2. Talent Planning by Function
  3. Talent Programs
  4. Role Profiles
  5. Sourcing
  6. Recruiting
  7. Assessments
  8. Onboarding
  9. High-Performance Programs
  10. Succession Planning
  11. Offboarding
  12. Talent Tech Stack
  13. Talent Reporting


To be best in class, a company must develop succession planning that does not disrupt the client relationship owned by Sales & Marketing. This takes time and involves relationship building. Senior sales and marketing leaders did not develop relationships with their clients overnight. Being able to plan ahead will allow your A players chomping at the bit to get into leadership positions to do so.



How to Incorporate Succession Planning into Your Talent Programs


Succession Planning should be included as a category to be evaluated in your Talent Programs. This can be done on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. A proactive approach is critical and Human Resources needs to be involved in every step of the way. We all know it takes 12-18 months to replace an executive presence. Use this Succession Planning template to help proactively plan ahead.


Ensuring that you are succession planning by running a parallel path as your senior leaders wind down will greatly alleviate the pain of having an interim sales or marketing leader. Identifying and developing high-potential candidates early on gives an organization time to groom them to fill key leadership positions within your organization. There is an obvious question that must be answered: can this role be filled internally by an A player or through the market.


The Perils of Not Taking Succession Planning Seriously


I recently worked with a small company, where the material portion of new and retained business came from two people. After some quick financial analysis, I discovered that these two employees accounted for 70% of annual revenue. Both of these folks were over the age of 70 and had no intentions of retiring. They were aware of the risk – but refused to talk succession planning. Both were relishing being in senior leadership positions and work was their life. The problem was remedied through a long and painful process of demonstrating how the company would cease to exist if anything happened to either. Succession planning was clearly not part of their talent strategy, but it is now a proactive piece.


How Can SBI Help


Succession Planning ensures you can meet the future leadership needs required to drive your organization toward a positive future. It provides a pipeline of talent so that planned (and unexpected) vacancies can be filled quickly with the ideal candidate. With excellent succession and promotion planning, leadership can proactively identify who would backfill critical roles.


Download the Succession Planning Template Tool to identify critical roles for a succession plan to be developed, document current incumbent and potential successors, and perform retention risk assessment to determine which roles need to be prioritized.


Best in class organizations proactively Succession Plan. Leverage SBI’s new Talent Strategy to ensure you are too.



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Geoff Schuler

Blends the classical approach to strategy with cutting edge data analytics to help clients make their number.

Geoff is an experienced management consultant with a heavy background in working directly with executive leadership to help achieve strategic outcomes. His experiences range from engaging full executive teams on corporate strategy development, to revamping compensation structures to align with firm  goals. Recently, he worked with the senior executives of a mid-size company to tailor financial assumptions, build, and present a pro forma model that depicted the impact an acquisition strategy would have on revenue and EBIDTA. The company followed the model’s guidelines as they executed on their strategy.


Geoff is a CPA and self-proclaimed data hound, whose demonstrated skill set includes: commercial due diligence, go-to-market strategies, market segmentation, competitive analysis, data analytics, development of M&A strategy & all related diligence, financial modeling, and compensation evaluation & restructure.

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