Succession – More than a Plan and a process…A Mindset

Leadership Succession. Making sure there is someone to take over when the Old Guy finally retires. I think for many people this is as far as the thinking goes. In my experience, the plan and process for succession is something that is focused on the top people in the organization and is more of a “have to do” rather than “want to do.” I believe the changing world of work will reward those people and organizations who decide to embrace succession as a key element of a strategic mindset rather than your necessary weekly chores.

Here’s what we know

  • Baby Boomers are exiting the workforce at a steady pace – Senior leadership is populated by them. Approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and will for the next 12 years.
  • Millennials are rapidly becoming the largest generation represented at work – They are our future senior leaders. Millennials will comprise 46% of the workforce by 2020, 75% of the workforce by 2025.
  • The younger generations want more than a paycheck…they want to feel like they are adding value and are valued.
  • Younger staff expect continuous feedback and a culture that supports their growth with assignments that stretch them and managers that employ a coaching approach to supervision.

At Benchmark Construction, one of our Core Values is Leadership. We define that as:

Guiding, inspiring and encouraging people to grow and succeed while striving towards a common goal. Providing clear vision and direction to support the team to be their best.

We realize that embracing a mindset of succession will:

  • Support sustaining future high performance and support our commitment to growth
  • Ensure transitions of critical leadership roles can occur with minimal missteps
  • Help leverage the curiosity and “GRIT” of younger generations and newer staff
  • Encourage an engaged workforce by attending to the above expectations
  • In January, we announced to our whole company a 4-year succession plan that will transition our company leadership from a single President with Vice Presidents for major business areas to an integrated Executive Team made up of a Chairman of the Board, CEO, President and COO. We identified the four current staff that will fill those positions and have engaged them as a group in regular conversations focused on establishing their unique team dynamic, supporting each other as they grow into their new roles and setting intentions about the direction and operations of the business in the future.

    The establishment of this plan grew from a commitment to our corporate vision which consists of a 10-year revenue goal, core values, core purpose and core commitment. Communicating the plan in a transparent way has created a level of accountability to execute on the plan in addition to creating energy with our staff to see opportunities for their future career growth. The process of identifying high potential staff to serve in future formal leadership roles has naturally grown from this process and our overall focus of growing leadership at all levels encourages everyone to consider what next version of themselves will succeed the current one.

    So, it comes down to a choice. We can allow the momentum of the status quo to create this experience:

    • Watch and see what young or new staff rise to the top and make the grade
    • Trust that current staff in positions of leadership will inform us of their plans and assume that we will have plenty of time to find the right person to replace people when they leave
    • Wait until there is a resignation, retirement or dismissal and then develop a plan to fill that position.

    Or, we can be pro-active, create a plan and design a process, that might look something like this….

    • Embrace a succession mindset
    • Develop a succession plan and identify high potential staff to focus on preparing to fill key leadership positions in the future
    • Establish a Performance Plan for all employees that includes objectives and outcomes. Offer regular feedback focused on where people are performing well and what they could do differently to be even more effective.
    • Create a culture that expects radically candid feedback and offers formal scheduled events for learning skills or competencies and real time, responsive learning opportunities.
      • Defined and scheduled training classes
      • Real time education on the job
      • Coaching for performance