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Wake Up Call...Succession Planning Crucial to Business Survival by Julie Rupenski, Founder & CEO, MedBest

The pandemic has served as a wake-up call to be prepared for the unexpected. For many senior living organizations, that means revisiting their succession plan and for others, it means creating a succession plan.

What is succession planning? According to Wikipedia, Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace current leaders when they leave, retire, or pass away. It's the process of identifying critical roles in a company and the core skills associated with those roles, and then identifying possible internal or external candidates to assume those jobs when the incumbents leave.

Leadership gaps, whether expected or unexpected, can lead to confusion, chaos, and stress among stakeholders, employees and even residents. Your senior care organization needs a proactive approach to address a transition in leadership to mitigate the risk of losing workers and residents, not to mention the overall reputation of your community.

Succession planning requires the buy-in from the Board of Directorsand and top management. So, where do you start?  Here's a basic “to do” list that will help with readiness:

  • Establish clear objectives and goals
  • Identify key roles that require succession planning
  • Clarify key role descriptions and corresponding talent profiles
  • Develop timelines of retirements and possible departures
  • Identify internal and external candidates as potential successors
  • Set high standards and make sure potential successors have equal or better qualifications
  • Keep succession plan up to date

While succession planning may seem like a time-consuming and tedious process, it benefits your organization in a number of ways:

  • Enables Disaster Proofing.  If one of your leaders resigns, retires, contracts a serious illness (or worse), or is lured away by a competitor, your organization becomes vulnerable. Having a succession plan is like having an insurance policy. It's a safety net for your organization to operate without disruption.
  • Identifies Future Leaders. Take a thorough look at your organizational chart to best understand potential leadership vulnerabilities. Once you've identified internal candidates, it's time to cross train them in key roles. On the other hand, if there are no internal candidates right for leadership positions, then it's time to begin an external search.
  • Aids Employee Retention. Succession planning recognizes ambitious internal candidates and let's them know their hard work and skills have been noticed and they're being considered for future advancement.
  • Creates New Development & Training Programs. If your organization has identified internal successor candidates, you will need to pinpoint any competency and/or skills gaps and begin grooming them for their future roles. Professional development may be in the form of cross-training, coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, additional college classes and/or certifications.
  • Maintains Brand Identity. Succession planning helps to maintain a good reputation and the continuation of brand identity. Your organization's brand promise needs to grow in strength and value through the ups and downs of your business.
  • Provides Peace of Mind. Change and uncertainty happen fast. When your company knows where it's going, your team can plan for the future.

Thinking about replacing senior leaders during a crisis may seem overwhelming. However, hoping that your leadership stays stable and in place isn't a plan or strategy.  Having a succession plan in place will pay long-term dividends for achieving the organization's mission without interruption regardless of future pandemics, uncertainties, or disruptions.

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