Interest in succession management, also defined as “internal talent management” in one of our recent reports, is at an all-time high. Most companies today still find it difficult and sensitive to address succession. The fear of losing a top performer based on exclusion in a succession plan or and the political fallout of promoting disliked employees with an organization can have catastrophic effects. Here are some great recent examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly of succession management:
The Good: GE. Jessica Marquez again does a great job writing about “GE’s People Power” in the July 23rd edition of Workforce Management. What stands out about GE when they were going through their CEO succession planning was the candor and insight to know the other internal candidates would not remain with the company.
“Jack told them within the final six months that, No. 1, we were putting their replacements on the job. There would be one winner and the two that didn’t get the job would have to leave. Putting their replacements on six months in advance was more of a shocker for them than it was for us. We also got the opportunity to see how they managed their successors”
The Bad: Fidelity. Fidelity a family-owned company, is experience upheaval to their executive succession right now. Succession is typically much more difficult for a family run business because children often get preference over other well-qualified executives. What we are starting to see at Fidelity is the writing on the wall for many in the executive suites that Abby Johnson, daughter of chairman Ned Johnson, is today’s heir apparent.
The Ugly: Oracle. Oracle’s today still refuses to put a succession plan in place. Unlike Jack Welch, who developed a deep bench of talent across the organization, Oracle’s bench only consists of a few key lieutenants, particularly Charles Phillips and Safra Catz. While Ellison should be proud of the legacy he is leaving in Silicon Valley (many of his employees now run some of Silicon Valley’s best known companies), the lack of succession at his own company is causing some concern even on Wall Street.
The value for effective succession management, and technology that can help facilitate the process, is immeasurable. In a meeting last week, an executive at a Fortune 50 client mentioned, “if you think about 4 key executives leaving (the company), technology to address succession planning is a no-brainer.” Succession though should not only be segregated to the executive ranks. As a wrote last week, every position should have a “depth chart“.
So…what does your company’s depth chart look like?