Anchor Your Company’s Future with These Smooth-Sailing Tips

RL07-23-2015Every organization goes through change. You may not know when or how, but you can be prepared when a rogue wave hits. One of the most debilitating change agents in the business world is turnover. According to the 2015 CareerBuilder Candidate Behavior survey, three in four full-time employed workers are open to or actively searching for new job opportunities. And though studies have shown Millennials are averaging about three years per job, older generations are still open to new opportunities. The cost of turnover can be up to 150% of a person’s salary, but the price of lost productivity and lack of leadership could be even more detrimental should you lose a key team member or senior leadership position. For this very reason, businesses must have comprehensive succession plans in place to ensure their companies stay on top during tribulation. Should a rogue wave threaten to capsize your company, follow these quick tips during your succession planning to ensure smooth sailing.

Keep your plan fluid.

A succession plan isn’t just an organizational chart with names on it presented to your board once a year. It is a living document that needs to be discussed thoroughly with every stake holder. With the ebb and flow of the business climate, it is important to understand that your succession plan may need to be updated to keep up with changes in your market and business. The document is an anchor to your ship, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be moved. Be sure to take everything happening in your market into account and discuss changes at least once a year.

Harbor your talent.

One aspect of a successful succession plan is to identify your company’s top talent and future, potential captains. The reason you have a plan is to avoid the need to rely on just one person to keep the company afloat, so be sure to have a pool of qualified candidates who will be able to step into leading roles. If you have a smaller talent pool or simply no one standing out in the crowd, this could be a time to implement employee development programs to help cultivate your employees into the leaders you’ll need. During shifts in leadership, it’s important to maintain some stability that hiring outside the company often can’t provide.

Avoid the hook, line, and sinker.

During this planning process, it is imperative to maintain open and honest communication—especially since you’re dealing with power shifts. No one wants to feel cheated or deceived into agreeing to something they don’t understand. So, when choosing interim leaders or permanent solutions, be sure to present the document with explanations for each decision. Take the time to express “who, what, why, when, and for how long” to ensure everyone understands the decision, so they will get on board with it. The most important thing is for key players to rally around the plan.

Prepare for the perfect storm.

Sometimes change hits us when we least expect it, so the only way to get through these times is to already be prepared to face them. This is when your succession plan comes to help, but its sails are only as strong as the wind behind them. When planning for change, brainstorm worst-case scenarios, and how your company would deal with them. For example, if your CFO leaves your company, does management have access to financial documents and payroll? If they do, do they know how to effectively run the company’s budget? Cross-training individuals and having open discussions about the executive’s roles can help make a smooth transition.

Hoist the mains. Full speed ahead.

Developing an effective succession plan may seem like a daunting task, but it is imperative to the success of your company during times of change. According to the American Management Association, only 19% of businesses are confident they are prepared to deal with significant turnover or management departures, yet 100% of companies will experience change at one point or another. In fact, the only certainty is change, but how you prepare for it may be the difference between smooth sailing and a shipwreck.

What are you doing to prepare for change? How has developing a comprehensive succession plan helped anchor your company’s future? Let us know in the comments section below!

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