The Challenge: Risk Posed by No Succession Plan

 

A mid-size logistics firm faced a critical challenge in succession planning, a key component of its risk management strategy. The necessity to identify critical positions and establish a specific action plan for their succession was driven by the awareness of the potential threat that vacancies pose to the company’s current strategy and long-term health. The senior leadership team unanimously acknowledged succession planning as an impediment to growth, especially given the looming retirements within their ranks. Concerns were not limited to the upper echelons of management; team leaders also voiced worries about the organization’s continuity and the well-being of senior leaders, highlighting a company-wide recognition of the issue’s importance.

Assessment Insights

 

Most in senior leadership roles were the sole individuals within the organization with specific technical expertise. This forced them to spend significant time in the weeds of daily operations, creating a significant barrier to their responsibilities as executives. The organization in general did not have starkly defined roles, responsibilities, or job descriptions. The organization’s approach to succession planning was hindered by this lack of clarity. Leadership criteria, philosophy, or behaviors were not well-articulated, leading to a scenario where mid-level leaders (Team Leads and Group Leads) operated their segments with considerable autonomy. This autonomy, though beneficial in some respects, created challenges in standardizing and implementing effective succession planning.

We led the senior leadership team in successfully defining the ideals, qualifications, and behaviors expected of leaders, a move that was positively received across the organization. The clarity around leadership expectations facilitated the identification and readiness tracking of successors, marking a critical step forward in the company’s succession planning efforts.

Applied Methods

We led the senior leadership team in successfully defining the ideals, qualifications, and behaviors expected of leaders, a move that was positively received across the organization. The clarity around leadership expectations facilitated our next steps of identification and readiness tracking of successors, marking a critical step forward in the company’s succession planning efforts. The company needed a structured succession planning framework that detailed the process for identifying, developing, and transitioning successors into critical roles. This framework came to include regular assessments of potential leaders’ readiness and the creation of individual development plans.

The tangible result for this client was a documented development plan for each identified successor, including a roadmap and timelines for readiness. Specific technical functions that still sat with senior leaders were assigned formal shadowing plans for appropriate technical personnel. In many cases, pieces of technical experience were shared or distributed across multiple personnel to minimize additional risk from turnover.