Unlocking Tomorrow: Why Succession Planning is Crucial for Your Business’s Future

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In the dynamic landscape of business, succession planning stands as a pivotal yet often overlooked strategy. Whether you’re steering a multinational corporation or managing a thriving startup, envision a roadmap for your business’s future. Succession planning is not just smart, it’s the key to securing a thriving tomorrow. 

Understanding the Essence of Succession Planning

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Succession planning is more than just preparing for the unexpected departure of key personnel; it’s a proactive strategy that ensures seamless transitions within an organization’s leadership and critical positions. The process is most successful when the company has a long lead time. Realistically, this is a year or two before the individual leaves the company. This gives the executive a chance to work with the person who will be taking over their role, whether it is an internal or external person. 

Two hands shaking

According to Pam Finnell, Recruiting Manager in the Human Resources Division at Morgan Hunter, companies have started realizing how crucial succession planning is in the last three to four years. 

“Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 people a day, which is pushing succession planning to the forefront. The organizations are really being forced to look at how they’re going to replace the executives and leaders at the top,” she said. 

Here’s why it should be a top priority for every business: 

  1. Mitigating Risk and Uncertainty: Key individuals within an organization can leave due to various reasons, including retirement, illness, or unforeseen circumstances. Without a succession plan in place, these departures can create a leadership vacuum, leading to disruptions, decreased productivity, and potential chaos. 
  2. Sustaining Business Continuity: Effective succession planning safeguards the continuity of operations. Identifying and nurturing the growth of potential successors ensures that the business remains on course even amidst leadership changes, minimizing the impact on day-to-day activities and long-term strategies. 
  3. Retention and Motivation of Talent: Demonstrating a clear path for career advancement and growth opportunities encourages employee retention. Succession planning reassures employees of the organization’s commitment to their development, boosting morale and dedication. 

Key Considerations in Succession Planning

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To embark on a successful succession planning journey, certain factors require careful consideration: 

  1. Identifying Critical Roles: Begin by identifying key positions critical to the functioning and growth of the business. These roles could include C-suite executives, department heads, or individuals with specialized skills pivotal to operations. 
  2. Assessing Talent and Potential: Evaluate the skills, competencies, and leadership qualities of potential successors. Look beyond technical expertise and consider qualities like adaptability, strategic thinking, and decision-making capabilities. 
  3. Creating Development Plans: Develop tailored development plans for high-potential employees. Provide mentoring, training, and exposure to different facets of the business to prepare them for future leadership roles. 
  4. Addressing Gaps: Identify skill gaps within the talent pool and devise strategies to address them. Whether through training programs, external recruitment, or cross-functional experiences, closing these gaps is crucial for a robust succession plan. 

Two recruiters with a clipboard

Making Succession Planning Easier

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Implementing a comprehensive succession plan might seem daunting, but adopting certain approaches can streamline the process: 

  1. Engage Stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders, including current leaders, HR professionals, and potential successors, in the succession planning process. Gathering diverse perspectives ensures a more holistic and effective plan. 
  2. Regular Reviews and Updates: Succession planning is not a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process that requires periodic review and adjustment. Stay adaptable and update plans as the business landscape and organizational needs evolve. 

What Happens When You Don’t Utilize Succession Planning

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When companies don’t bother with succession planning, it can load to a myriad of issues, including confusion, money troubles and a lot of unnecessary stress.  

Consider the potential fallouts: 

  • Leadership Vacuum: Sudden departures without identified successors can lead to a leadership vacuum, causing disruptions in decision-making and strategic direction.  
  • Losing Important People and Knowledge: Imagine a star player leaving a sports team without a replacement. That’s what happens when a valued employee goes without a succession plan. The company not only loses that person but also their knowledge about how things work, causing disruptions in decision-making and strategic direction. 
  • Talent Drain: Lack of growth opportunities and career paths may prompt talented employees to seek opportunities elsewhere, resulting in talent loss and reduced employee morale. 
  • Chaos and Worry: No plan means everyone starts panicking when a key person leaves. It’s like a surprise party without a plan – lots of chaos. HR teams and everyone else in the company start worrying about who’s going to lead, how things will work and what the plan is. 
  • Impact on Stakeholders: Investors, clients and stakeholders may lose confidence in the organization’s stability and prospects due to uncertainties arising from a lack of succession planning. 
  • Hitting Pause on Business as Usual: Without a clear plan, the company can’t just keep going like before. The company loses the flow it had, and it becomes hard to keep things running smoothly. 
  • Money Troubles: Ignoring succession planning can cost a lot – potentially tens of thousands of dollars or more. The company then is forced to spend money to deal with the mess, which means hiring new people, fixing mistakes and dealing with the fallout. 

Recruiter angry with a declining chart


Tips to Initiate Effective Succession Planning

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To kickstart a robust succession planning strategy, consider these actionable tips: 

  1. Start Early: Procrastination can be detrimental. Begin succession planning today, even if it means focusing on a few critical positions initially. 
  2. Communicate Clearly: Transparent communication about the importance of succession planning and its role in the organization’s longevity encourages buy-in and participation from all stakeholders. 
  3. Develop Talent Pipelines: Create a pipeline of talent by identifying and nurturing potential successors at different levels within the organization. 
  4. Seek Expert Guidance: Consider seeking guidance from external consultants or industry experts experienced in succession planning to gain insights and best practices. 

Two recruiters shaking hands

Strategic Succession Planning with Morgan Hunter Morgan Hunter helps companies plan for the future by finding the right people for key positions. When a company needs to fill a role, Morgan Hunter identifies the specific requirements and works to find someone who fits the bill. They assess candidates during interviews, focusing on strengths that will benefit the company. 

The process starts by creating a profile for the ideal candidate. The team discusses potential candidates internally, maintaining confidentiality as needed. With nearly four decades of experience, Morgan Hunter’s team, many with over 20 years at the company, stands out in Kansas City for their relationship-focused approach. 

“There is a human component that we bring to the search, using our decades of experience and relationships in the industry,” Finnell said. “Face-to-face is important to us. We know the local market, and the many talented individuals to call.” 


In one real-life example, Morgan Hunter successfully partnered with a supply chain organization to implement proactive succession planning for key leadership positions. 


The Challenge:  A supply chain organization faced simultaneous HR and CEO leadership retirements, necessitating the management of two critical positions at the same time. 

Morgan Hunter’s Strategy: The company addressed the challenge through proactive succession planning.  They provided a one-year lead time for the HR Leader successor and a two-year lead time for the CEO successor, demonstrating a commitment to securing strong leadership for the future. 

The Outcome:  Despite the temporary dual leadership situation, Morgan Hunter identified an HR Leader as the successor to the incumbent.  The proactive approach to leadership change showcased the company’s commitment to valuing its people, ensuring the right individuals in key roles, and strategically planning for sustained growth. 


As your organization considers succession planning, our team welcomes a conversation with you.  Understanding your vision for the responsibilities of the role allows us to identify the right person to support business growth in the future,” explained Finnell. 

In conclusion, succession planning is not an optional undertaking; it’s a strategic imperative for businesses of all sizes. By proactively identifying and developing future leaders, businesses can fortify themselves against disruptions, ensure business continuity, and cultivate a pool of skilled and motivated talent poised to steer the organization towards continued success. 

Investing in succession planning today secures the future of your business, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership and sustaining the legacy of excellence and innovation in the corporate realm. Ready to elevate your leadership team? We’re here to dive into your staffing needs, chat about your goals and craft a smart succession plan together. Reach out to Morgan Hunter today to get started!