The Risks of Not Engaging in Succession Planning
Without the implementation of a succession plan, there can be significant consequences for an organization including:
- Loss of expertise and knowledge of the organization
- Loss of continuity
- Leadership gaps
- Damaged client/partnership relationship
- Lost time and effort to recruit and train replacement employees and volunteers
- Inability to achieve the mission and realize the vision
- Severe gaps in historical knowledge about the organization
- Unprepared/unqualified successor in a key role
- Uncertainty for staff and potential of low morale
If an organization is left without a competent leader, the organization can suffer. In an unplanned situation, ineffective quick-fix solutions may be taken. A temporary replacement is often the only choice, and the ultimate result may be that the organization, temporarily, does not perform well.
Think of succession planning in terms of a business. Without succession planning, a business that has become successful can just as easily fail. The business grows partly because there is a leader with experience, drive and ability. Without proper succession planning, the future success of the business is not as secure once that leader has gone. With so much at stake, succession planning has to be a priority and should be part of every organization’s strategic plan.
Good joint management and effort among the decisionmakers builds a comfortable, strong, empowered, and conscious organization.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, a key shareholder leaves for some reason and the organization’s life is disrupted instantly.
In the Future...
The remaining group of decision-makers faces a critical decision, and if they have a succession planning strategy, they can use it and recruit successors while developing new talent to succeed in the future.
In national boards and committees, a time limit of six years or two trienniums for key positions is often used as a natural and acceptable rule for succession in decision-making bodies.
Some constitutions state that all committee members are to be elected at each assembly, while others work on a schedule where members are elected for two periods, with only half of the members elected at each election. Under this strategy, there will always be some experienced members on the board and committee during each period.
There are always risks of having either a very ‘old’ board or a very ‘young’ board – succession planning is intended to ensure that a balance is created.
A special category of leaders exists in WAGGGS Member Organizations that run mostly school-related units. Here the teachers are the leaders of the leisure time activities offered at the school.
As Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting activities demand a reasonable amount of planning, self-training, and involvement, very often the leaders – or teachers – are the youngest and least experienced. They are also more likely to pass on their leadership role in Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting to other teachers. With very little room for succession planning, the new leaders learn ‘on the job’.
As part of creating your succession planning process here are some key points to remember:
- Prioritise the roles and tasks within the organization
- Decide which ones are critical roles in ensuring the quality and continuation of your work
- Decide and prioritise critical information needed for these roles and design a communication strategy
- Recruit - competent people
- Train and develop - to enhance knowledge, skills and abilities related to important tasks
- Create a system of performance assessment and recognition management - preparing for advancement or promotion into ever more challenging roles
- Be ready for change – be prepared to retain or replace volunteers
- Prepare the resigning people to hand over their skills and knowledge and to take on other challenges
- Show Appreciation to those who have finished their tenure. Be open to them taking up new responsibilities within or outside of the Association.
Decision making body + Succession planning process yields:
- Teams play “what if” scenarios to ensure that they are thinking of most possibilities
- Succession plan clearly sets out the factors to be taken into account and the process to be followed in relation to retaining or replacing the person
- Succession management systems are in place to provide the best solutions and shortest paths to succession
- Organization maintains leadership, continuity and stability
Does your organization have:
❏ A considered system for ongoing growth and survival
❏ Continuity of policy and operations
❏ Stimulating and motivating members and leaders
❏ A system for staff development (provides opportunities to increase or better skills and develop new ideas and talent)
❏ Revised and up-to-date election procedures in all levels of the organization