February 2015: Implement Successful Succession Planning

eNews Masthead - Transforming Challenges
In this Issue

Opening Remarks

In the abstract, everyone agrees on the importance of succession planning.  But how to go about it?  In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Maureen Gallagher and John Reid offer five elements of successful succession planning.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • The Reid Group is in its second contract with the Archdiocese of New York for the Making All Things New planning project involving all 368 parishes.  The focus of the second contract is on implementation of Cardinal Dolan’s decisions about mergers and collaborations.  The Reid Group team is in the Archdiocese the week of February 9 to offer regional training sessions with a variety of resources designed to help parishes move forward successfully in this time of transition.
  • Lucien Roy attended the celebration of a new five-year strategic plan at St. Francis X College Church in St. Louis MO.
  • John Reid has completed his work with St. Matthew Parish in Seattle WA on a three-year strategic plan.  Implementation will begin this month.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

The Reid Group teleseminar series

February 18, 2015:  Dancing with Change
1p.m. PT, 2 p.m. MT, 3 p.m. CT, 4 pm ET

When you hear the word change, what thoughts, feelings and images come to mind? How do you or your co-workers typically deal with change? Are the patterns of response to change characterized by reaction, resistance, or moving constructively with change? Could you or your team benefit from exploring the dynamics of change and transition? Then please join our next Teleseminar call.

During this teleseminar participants will be provided a framework for looking at the dynamics of change. In addition, the session will offer practical suggestions to build on the momentum of the call.

Are there issues or questions you would like to hear more about?  Send your comments and feedback to us at info@thereidgroup.biz.

Feature Focus

Elements of Successful Succession Planning


John Reid, Senior Consultant

This article is adapted from one written by Maureen and John for Catholic Health World, the publication of the Catholic Health Association.

Succession planning is one way to be proactive in forming new leaders. It involves a process whereby organizations identify and develop the capacity of employees to be promoted to more and more responsible leadership roles.

The primary goal of succession planning is sustainable leadership. There are three common approaches to assuring sustainable leadership.

Maureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant

Maureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant

  • The first, the emergency approach, is the response to an unforeseen departure where no planning has been done and the human resource department is asked to find a replacement as soon as possible. While this approach may surface an ideal candidate, the chance of that happening is very unpredictable.
  • The second approach is to hire a search firm to find competent candidates. This can be successful, if the company employed is knowledgeable about the competencies needed for the position and has the ability to tap the market for capable people. Even after competent people are hired, the learning curve may be steep as the new hire needs to “learn” the culture of the organization in order to do the job.
  • The third approach, and the one which we will explore here, is succession planning, where internal candidates are identified and developed to fill leader positions. For this strategy to be successful it must be part of the broader leadership culture of the organization. In this approach, high performing employees are recruited and given opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and abilities to be organizational leaders.

There are five key steps involved in succession planning:

Identify clear criteria related to the competencies required to be a successful leader. To initially screen for potential candidates, one might consider first the personal qualifications and leadership competencies. Having a collaborative style, living a values-centered life and the ability to inspire and motivate others are all essential parts of personal “the right stuff” inherent in effective leaders.

Experience in leadership is also a critical factor as one begins to screen for potential leaders. In order to be credible, leaders need to be able to establish meaningful relationships within the leadership or executive team and demonstrate an understanding of leadership in the reality of organizational operations day to day.

Provide excellent and person-centered development experiences related to the competency criteria. It is important to consider the learner’s needs and potential when setting up succession development programs. The opportunities themselves may include in-house classes, college or university work, a certificate or degree program, observations and “shadowing” as well as mentoring.

What is important is that leadership within the organization supports the development of potential leaders, whether or not there is a specific opening or job description at the moment. Supporting on-going development will help retention of valued employees and help create a more sustainable future.

Integrate initial and on-going assessment in the leadership development process. One size does not fit all in the area of leadership development.  For instance, people who have had successful experience managing a department may not need more development in that program area but might very well benefit from enhanced knowledge of business and management practices. On the other hand a person who has had a very successful human resources management experience and is interested in program leadership might need program-specific training, rather than business and organizational development training.

Mentoring is key to successful leadership development. Mentoring is most effective when it is part of the process before the person is hired for the leadership position, and then continues for at least three years after the person begins in the positon.

Be aware of the more elusive abilities and qualities needed to be effective leaders. The skills, knowledge and abilities which describe strong leaders include those behaviors and knowledge bases that can be measured, as well as some that are less measurable, such as: the ability to engage and inspire others to embrace the organization’s mission; the well-honed intuition to know when to push for a change or when to “let it go;” the knowledge and confidence to be able to contribute to a conversation about potential new streams of revenue and a wide variety of business and organizational ethical issues, etc.

Be able to change as the landscape changes. One of the hallmarks of leadership is the way it has evolved over the last thirty years as the organizational landscape has changed and new challenges have arisen. Today’s leaders need to be adept at helping organizations change to deal with today’s critical issues in a way which strengthens the organization.

The kind of succession planning described above is comprehensive and inclusive. It builds upon and is integrated into the culture of the organization. It prepares future leaders for the many challenges and changing landscape they will face in the 21st century. Quality holistic leadership development will empower leaders to sustain the vitality and integrity of organizations and assure their future.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

bookcoverweb2Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from Amazon.com.

And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.Kathy Johnson, Editor, Transforming Challenges
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