Evidence Based Succession Planning…A Necessity, Not a Luxury.

Geese In V Formation

Evidence Based Succession Planning…A Necessity, Not a Luxury.

No Organization Can Afford to Put All of Its Eggs in One Basket.  Yes, it’s a cliché. But, as is true of many clichés, it’s also true.

Take for example, a picture of geese in their iconic V formation. Geese in flight don’t expect the leader to remain at the head of the group all the way to their destination. They know that other geese have to be ready to move into that leadership role. In fact, it has been reported that a flock can travel 71 % farther in a V formation by having other geese ready to take the lead.

So, what can healthcare teams learn from Mother Nature?  Well, having an evidence-based succession plan in place can help you stay on course toward reaching your goal, your vision.

It may be a little more complicated for humans, however, than for geese. For starters, retirement is not the only trigger for succession planning. Factors such as health issues and unexpected executive departures often trigger the selection of a new leader. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that successful organizations plan for the unexpected—especially when it comes to who’s going to lead.

Successful healthcare organizations regularly evaluate their current and future needs and…just like a flock of geese in flight…know, in advance, who can step in as the potential successors to their key leaders.

As important, those organizations have identified the developmental needs of those successors. They recognize that new leaders come with uncertain talents, uncertain knowledge, and uncertain leadership skills.

That’s where evidence-based succession planning comes into play…broadening prospective leaders’ horizons and their knowledge of the entire enterprise.

At The Synergy Organization, we define succession planning as putting a plan into place that avoids breaks in leadership continuity.

Many respected experts on effective leadership have reported that the hallmark of every successful organization is not only the caliber of its leadership, but also the continuity among those who lead their organizations toward higher levels of performance.

Unfortunately, the absence of established and effective succession planning exposes organizations to needless and avoidable breaks in continuity. It also predisposes them to lost business opportunities and revenue, severed physician relationships, and unnecessary turnover, leaving them to deal with the consequences of decreased productivity.

Yet, within our American workforce, there is a declining attachment to employers. Across all levels of organizations, a less loyal and less knowledgeable labor force has a profoundly negative effect on these organizations’ productivity, profitability, and continuity.

Such breaks often result in an experienced leader being replaced by another individual requiring an extended “learning curve.” The new leader is unfamiliar with the culture, internal politics, unique product or service offerings, and the history of how things are accomplished in that organization.

Also, without formalized continuity planning programs, leaders tend to choose successors whose backgrounds and leadership styles are similar to their own. But, unfortunately, many of those successors are simply not likely to meet their organizations’ longer-term needs.

In contrast, effective succession planning offers many benefits. Research has found that those organizations providing clear opportunities for professional growth and promotion from within are significantly more profitable and successful. Giving employees these opportunities for career growth and development often leads to increased customer and employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

At Synergy, we have developed five guidelines for effective succession planning:

1. Obtain buy-in from key stakeholders because an organization’s program will be limited by the extent to which it has earned their support.

2. Assess current progress and identify the organization’s future talent requirements.

3. Give particular attention to the disparity between organizational strategy and the competency of the leaders who will be required to implement it. Programs must be designed to address these gaps and reinforce the organization’s core values and philosophy.

4. Determine which organizational levels need to be included, establish program priorities, and develop a roll out strategy with timelines.

5. Refine the process through a systematic review of the program’s effectiveness against predetermined benchmarks.

Another key to effective succession planning, we have found, is an organization’s ability to differentiate those employees who are most likely to develop and meet its needs from those who will not produce the desired return on investment. This is especially critical with leaders. In fact, Synergy’s national research study found that the cost of promoting the wrong person can easily cost an organization six to ten times that individual’s annual salary.

While research has found that the best leaders are confident in their own abilities and are committed to doing the right things to set their organizations up for long term success, they are also much more likely to develop others to the mutual benefit of both these leaders and the organization.

We know that Mother Nature has the flock prepared to replace the lead goose. But how have you prepared your organization to replace its leaders?


866-HIRE-123 • synergyorg.com