Selfishness Poses a Roadblock
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Bliss adds that in many privately held companies, he has seen numerous reasons for not having a succession management plan, including the fact that the CEO doesn't want to give up the reigns. "These CEOs don't appreciate that their life could end any minute, or they could suffer a permanent disability as a result of a freak accident, or a host of other reasons," he says. "This really points to selfishness on their part as they are not planning for the livelihood of so many other people who depend on the company they are leading--family, employees, customers, and other stakeholders."
Second, the CEO and even his team are often too focused on short-term issues and not focused on longer term issues--again, this can be for selfish reasons.
A third reason Bliss has experienced: CEOs think about succession but rarely share the ideas with others. "This is not a great strategy, as the likely successor does not know the position they are in, nor is the CEO putting that person on an adequate development plan to get them fully ready," he says.
While the costs of avoiding succession management are significant, the rewards for companies that do practice succession management are even greater. Succession management can be incorporated into any size company from the smallest startup to large corporate giants.
Norbert Kubilus, former COO of National Data Corporation and now CIO at Tatum Partners in San Diego, credits succession management to his rise at his previous employer. And he's taken that lesson to heart in his professional roles. "As a CIO/CTO/COO, I've developed formal succession plans for my team," he says. "Some CIOs may feel threatened by the concept of CIO succession planning ... but developing one or more strong candidates demonstrates that the incumbent CIO is concerned about the continuity of IT leadership and about protecting the company's technology investment."
Succession management also preserves knowledge including intellectual property within a company. "With a lot of intellectual property inside people's heads these days it is important to preserve those heads via a good succession plan," says Manuel Mellos, director of IT at Woolworth's. "Succession planning may assist in extracting that intellectual property out of those heads as well."
Previously: Why Companies Don't Train IT Workers