By George! What an idea!
The world watched with interest this week as the 3rd in line to the throne of England made his debut.
Congratulations to Will and Kate!
This venerable institution has been going strong, despite a few bumps along the road, for a thousand years. With 3 heirs lined up and preparing for the job, HRH Queen Elizabeth can rest easy knowing that her role will be well and aptly filled through the next century at least. In the corporate world it’s called…
The process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company.
The preparation of not only one “king or queen in waiting”, but potentially several, is a daunting but important task. It ensures the availability of experienced and capable employees who are prepared to assume key leadership roles as they become available. Some companies do fairly well in succession planning. But what happens when they don’t? What happens when the succession needs to happen before anyone planned?
I remember well when I took over the reins of a property sales and marketing organization whose previous occupant had performed the job for over 20 years. With long serving staff in the department, I was hoping to have people who really understood the workings of the job to help me along, but their previous boss was a believer of the old adage “knowledge is power”. So she didn’t share any. Even the most senior staffers had no idea of budgetary or reporting requirements, nor had anyone else developed relationships with key clients of the hotel.
To make matters worse, even though she had been promoted to a new position and had different responsibilities, she was so threatened by anyone doing what had been her role for so long (or perhaps doing it better) that she constantly sent spies to ascertain what was happening and indiscreetly making negative comments to the property president and GM about my foreign ideas (Email for all sales managers? What a concept!) and activities. Of course when the property made budget for the first time in 8 years there wasn’t much more to say, but it was an unnecessary distraction.
The point is… rather than concentrate on securing the success of the hotel, the focus was on keeping anyone else from succeeding, or appearing to succeed – as she feared it would make her look less important.
While I understand competition among sales staff and account ownership (and credit), I firmly believe that one should not let this get in the way of true teamwork that fosters group success. Team-work leads to success and individual success should not be achieved at the expense of threatening the overall company or hotel’s results. Working as a team, the leader gains insight on who can lead if needed…
I mean, if you were hit by a bus tomorrow, who would do your job? And this is valid for every level, not only C-suite or Directors.
Could someone step into YOUR role without missing a beat?
Contrary to my predecessor’s concern in the example above, developing your team is not a threat to your own success; instead it shows you to be a true leader. With an active succession planning program, you recruit and develop employees to fill key roles so that, as your company expands, loses key employees and increases sales, you’ll have capable employees on hand for promotion.
Whether it’s an unforeseen illness, a natural disaster, or a sudden retirement, the reasons for having a succession plan are endless. So while you can’t plan for disaster, you can and should ensure the successful passing of the baton when the time comes.
… without all those diaper changes!
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