7 in 10 CIOs have not identified their successor: Survey

Starting process early, sharing vision key to effective succession planning

Technology executives may excel at quick recovery from network outages and guarding against security breaches, but the vast majority lack a backup plan should their own job need to be filled suddenly, according to new Robert Half Technology survey.

Seventy-one per cent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they haven't identified a successor in the event they had to stop working unexpectedly, found the survey of 270 Canadian CIOs.

"Although often disregarded, succession planning lays the groundwork for a smooth transition when a manager is ready to take the next career step or in the event he or she leaves unexpectedly," said Lara Dodo, a regional vice-president of Robert Half Technology. "A formal succession plan is also critical for a firm's long-term success, and assists in retaining valued employees by making it clear what career paths are available in the future."

Robert Half Technology offers the following five tips on finding and grooming a successor:

Start early: It can take time to identify and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role, so begin the process early. Even if you doubt you'll need a replacement anytime soon, preparing someone to assume your duties creates a safety net in the event of an unforeseen absence or extended leave.

Keep an open mind: While the obvious successor may be your second in command, don't overlook other promising employees. Look for candidates who best display the skills necessary to excel in the role — including both strong technical aptitude and leadership abilities — regardless of title.

Share the vision: Include prospective managers in strategy discussions to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the company and its goals.

Make it ongoing: Provide regular feedback to protegés so they can continue to progress and meet expectations.

Take a trial run: A vacation is a good time to have a potential successor assume some of your responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a greater role.

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