Succession planning is a topic that is often thought of, but typically not executed well, if at all. Specialty chemicals recruiter Jeff Bennett speaks to leaders, questioning them about succession planning to prompt and help them think about the company’s future. Often, we find ourselves thinking in the short term due to the amount of immediate goals and work that need to be accomplished. However, it is the dedicated and executed long term plans that will lead to more success for the future; starting with the leadership down will have the greatest impact on an organization.

Why is it not executed?

To start with, there is worry with bringing the succession planning topic up: Executives worry that if they bring it up, then it will be assumed that they plan to leave soon and therefore their position will be at stake, while the organization worries if they bring it up then the executives will feel that there is a lack of confidence in them. There also comes the problem of who is expected to start the planning. Is it HR or the leadership themselves? This unclarity causes succession planning to be put on the backburner.

Benefits of succession planning

One major advantage is already knowing the person filling the shoes is a cultural fit for the company. The problem that can come from filling a leadership position with an outside candidate is the potential loss due to them not being the right fit for the company. Another benefit is the ability to have the successor follow and be mentored by the current leadership in the years leading up. This offers the ability for company experience and knowledge to be passed down versus having someone start from scratch. This can also have an effect on culture due to employees having opportunities to work towards and grow into.

How to best execute

The best way to execute a plan is by starting off with a company decision of who is in charge of creating, monitoring, and advocating for a succession plan. Focus needs to be on the longer-term goals that will be aimed towards the company’s future. From there, the planning needs to have a balance of objectivity and empathy which puts the people first. Avoid creating a plan that makes it a competition, this will only cause stress. A plan that is only based on opinion will not lead to the best future outcomes for company growth. Instead, focus on a plan that pushes people to grow and that leaves opinions out of the equation. Instead evaluate the data that shows the growth over time with the intent of encouraging people.

Discipline and perseverance need to be encouraged to make sure that succession plans are actually executed. While this is easy to push aside, succession planning is a way for companies to ensure their future leaders will push companies to the next level. When the talent pool is already shallow, it becomes difficult to find the right candidates to replace leadership when working in niche markets such as specialty chemicals. Investing in employees to become successors will only bring future successes for companies. With discipline, planning and dedication, it is possible for organizations to make this possible.

Written by Jeff Bennett- Specialty Chemicals Recruiter and Food & Beverage Practice Lead