Succession Gone Astray

What happens, when you put in place a succession plan to ensure a smooth transition of information, knowledge, and skills from a long-term employee to their successor and the long-term employee is suddenly gone?

You may well be asking how did the long-term employee leave?  Were they ill, had an accident, left the business for another position?  Reasonable questions to ask.  What if all members of the business were aware of the agreement regarding the succession plan, including timeframes, and suddenly all bets are off?  What went wrong?  What are the consequences for the business?

Something like this may not be a regular occurrence.  Yet it has recently happened in the Hawthorn Football Club. The Succession Plan for Sam Mitchell to take over from long term coach Alistair Clarkson was announced, including the timeframes and all was apparently well.  Alas, not exactly so.  Three weeks after it was announced it is over.

Succession Planning can be very formal or sometimes it is a little casual.  What is always present is the human behaviour dynamic.  For the successor this may be an exciting time.  They can’t wait to get in and work at a more challenging level.  For the person providing the successor with their knowledge and skills, their experience of the situation may vary depending on their current stage of life.  There is also the other angle when the successor may not want to be the ‘successor’.  That may not be the path they want to take yet feel they are being pushed to be the successor.

With respect to the Hawks situation, there are many elements at play there other than Clarkson and Mitchell.  Yet the Club has been left in a less than tenuous position than if the plan was allowed to play out.

Do you plan for succession in your business?  Is it well considered with all parties wants and needs respected?  What will be the impact if you don’t plan for succession effectively?

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