Monday, January 11, 2016

Succession Preparation vs Planning

“We need a succession plan.”  I hear this from CEOs and, more often, Board members who are concerned about CEO retirement or departure.

While this is a healthy thing to think about, I suggest that you need “succession preparation” more than you need “succession planning.”  In large corporations, succession planning is about identifying, developing, and evaluating potential CEOs over a period of years.  This is usually not possible or even ideal in a nonprofit.  But you should do “succession preparation.”

Three key elements of succession preparation are:

1.  An Emergency Transition Plan in the event that the CEO is incapacitated for a significant period of time.  Which person or persons would take on the CEO’s responsibilities during this interim period?  Have they been trained on what to do?  Do they have at least some relationship with key stakeholders so they could take on these responsibilities?  All too often, CEOs hold a lot of information only in their heads.  You need to get this written down.  And you might want emergency plans for other key staff.

2.  Cross Training for all staff.  Here is the test.  Every person on your staff should be able to take a two week vacation to Bora Bora with no email or phone access.  While they are gone, someone else should have been cross-trained to be able to perform their essential functions.

3.  Professional Development Plans for all staff.  An organization can be more resilient through staff transitions when all staff are continually improving their skills and talents.

For more great information on staff transitions, check out resources available through Transition Guides – now a part of Raffa.  Proper "succession preparation" can help your organization “prepare, pivot, & thrive” through transitions and continue making an important Mission Impact.

 For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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