CEO Succession Plans Lacking at CUs

Current planning efforts give organizations a false sense of security.

November 02, 2010
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How do companies get back on a steady succession planning path? Larcker and Stephen Miles of Heidrick & Struggles offer this advice:

* Recognize that succession planning as practiced by most companies gives a false sense of security. "Even though boards have made progress in this area in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, most companies' succession planning still isn't even close to being good enough. Make sure your board devotes meaningful time to this exercise, rather than simply checking off the box of a meeting agenda."

* Focus on making succession plans operational. "Companies need to move from the 'names in boxes' approach that gives them a false sense of security to truly developing 'viable' candidates."

* Demand experience from directors. "Regulators are recognizing the importance of a rigorous succession process, and firms should seek directors and/or nominating and governance committee chairs with sufficient experience in this area to ensure it's adequately addressed."


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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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