AEIB-GraphicAs we do occasionally, we're featuring an excerpt today from the Armada Corporate Intelligence publication,  “Inside the Executive Suite.” This article was about succession planning best practices IF your organization has no formal succession planning and a team member resigns.

Based on surveys suggesting many organizations lack formal succession planning or don't follow it closely, their informal strategy for succession planning best practices is a good stop gap. This is especially true early in the year when some people resign after staying around long enough to qualify for year-end bonuses.

These four quick steps for an informal strategy for succession planning could be just what you need to do this week!

Succession Planning Best Practices - 4 Quick Steps for an Informal Strategy

(From Armada Corporate Intelligence - "Inside the Executive Suite")

Based on the particular survey you find in a quick online search, perhaps 1/3 of organizations don’t have succession planning in place – although the number could be much higher, or slightly lower!

Suffice it to say, even if succession planning is completed, the same surveys report many organizations don’t employ the individuals they would need to implement the succession plans they have.

This absence of succession planning best practices can be a particular issue right after the New Year. Employees that have stuck around only to satisfy the date for an annual bonus often turn in their resignations immediately afterward. Seeing this happen many times, it’s worthwhile to share these steps to take right now, just in case you lack succession plans.


1. Start your informal succession planning by compiling a very short list of employees you’ll fight to keep

If you do nothing else toward succession planning before January 1, decide which employees you’d make a concerted effort to keep should they announce they are departing.

We recommend making a VERY short list because when most people resign, they have made a mental break they’ll never completely mend – even if they stay because you countered successfully. As a result, the only names on the list should be those absolutely critical to current operations or whose specialized knowledge or expertise would leave a gaping hole.

Also jot down names of employees you’d be happy to see leave, should they do so. Everyone else falls into the, “Not looking to lose them, but it might happen” category.

With this list, you’re in a much better position to implement step 2 if someone announces he or she is leaving.

2. If someone resigns, stay calm, ask questions, and listen

Suppose, it’s January 2nd or February 1st (or whatever date after which bonuses are set) and a key employee resigns. You need to stay calm since this is your opportunity to ask smart questions and listen intently. If the person resigning is on your “fight to keep” list, ask:

  • Are you willing to reconsider?
  • Have you thought about what might make you reconsider?
  • What timing commitments have you made to the new organization?

Understanding these answers begins framing your response for an employee you’re trying to keep since you should have a better idea of what a counter-offer will have to include.

Even for employees on the “not looking to lose them” list, however, asking the last question leads to Step 3

3. Negotiate more transition time if you think it is valuable

For employees not on your “fight to keep” list you’d like in place longer than the two weeks typically offered as a transition period, ask what types of flexibility they have to alter start dates with new employers.

If you think an individual would handle a longer transition period in a constructive, productive way, you may want to negotiate for three or four weeks instead of two. In so doing, you’re not trying to keep them for an extended period; you are, however, trying to buy more time to advance your succession planning and implementation.

4. Find a confidant to vent, then use alone time to think and plan

After asking questions and listening, conclude your meeting. Then go ahead and vent, if you need to do that. Contact a confidant to vent privately without concern for your venting getting back to the office. If you’re frustrated, apprehensive, or even excited, none of these are appropriate emotions to display publicly. Get them out, and return to your calm state quickly.

At that point, begin thinking about what moves you could make to replace the person leaving from among internal candidates. Even if you don’t have someone completely prepared for the job, do you have someone ready for an opportunity that challenges them in dramatically different or more significant ways? If so, there might be no better time to grow them than through stepping into a much bigger role.

Are you ready for people changes with an informal strategy for succession planning?

These steps certainly don’t constitute a full succession planning strategy. If you don’t have one, however, it’s a solid checklist to work through should any staff members announce their departures after the first of the year. - Armada Corporate Intelligence


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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.