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Succession planning: Start planning well in advance

Succession planning: Start planning well in advance Q. When and how should I start thinking about a succession plan?

A. Begin planning well before a successor will be needed. Start with skill building for the identified core group of staff. Teach and train leadership techniques to the most skilled and talented group of employees at your company. Invest in coaches and mentors to help them strengthen their leadership skills. Sometimes, the CEO is the best mentor and other times, outside mentors are needed to develop a leader. Make sure you have more than one person in the pipeline as depth is needed to develop a core team of employees who will take you to the next stage and often play a big role in the outgoing CEO's transition to the new CEO.


To create a real bench, you will need goals and metrics to know how well staff and leaders perform. Goals can be as simple as how much outstanding A/R over 120 days you carry to net revenue by product and payer that is paid within 45-60 days. With the right leaders, you will know if your staff measures up to expectations. Make sure they understand what those expectations are (many are part of the goal setting practice so they should be keenly aware).

The leader in this case has been successful in training the team how to improve productivity through objective measure and metric.


A list of the CEO's required personality traits and leadership skills should be documented. Learn the candidate's strengths and weaknesses that are both objectively and subjectively measured. Some are quantifiable and other traits are simply success oriented skills and motivational drivers. Additionally, test the potential leader by having the person act as leader on a project as a case study to determine if they are suitable for the chief executive position.


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