Nearly one-third of U.S. companies don’t have succession plan

Financial performance, productivity suffer without plan: Survey
||Last Updated: 05/26/2011

When a high-level leader leaves a company, there's a lot of pressure associated with the selection of his successor. Even with so much weight placed on future leaders, many companies don't have a formal plan of action to replace their executives.

Nearly one-third (31 per cent) of employers in the United States don't have a succession plan in place at their organization, according to a survey of 1,000 employers by CareerBuilder.

In addition, 50 per cent of senior management and 52 per cent of vice-presidents said they do not have a successor for their current role, found the survey.

A lack of succession planning can adversely affect an organization in a variety of ways, from the absence of strategic direction to decreased productivity to weakened financial performance. More than one-quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said their company has been adversely affected financially by poor succession planning or a lack thereof.

The recession was seen as an obstacle to effective succession planning, found the survey. More than one-quarter (28 per cent) of respondents said the recession left gaps in their succession plans due to downsizing or workers leaving voluntarily.

"As the economy gradually improves, it's important for organizations to proactively plan for the future of their businesses," said Jamie Womack, vice-president of corporate marketing and sales training at CareerBuilder. "Having a blueprint on who will succeed management at all levels is a critical facet to your overall strategy, as it ensures that your organization will be able to tackle future challenges and compete in your industry."

When asked what is lacking in their current succession planning program, employers said the following:

not enough opportunities for employees to learn beyond their own roles (39 per cent)

•process isn't formalized (38 per cent)

•not enough investment in training and development (33 per cent)

•not actively involving employees or seeking their input (31 per cent)

•focusing only on top executives (29 per cent).

Workers' awareness of and input on their own succession planning is important. Forty-nine per cent of survey respondents said employees don't set up career paths with their managers with timelines and milestones.

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