Leaders not being groomed, study finds
Most Canadian companies are unprepared for an abrupt change in leadership, according to a succession study that found many are also bad at spotting internal talent and grooming them to climb the hierarchical ladder. A survey of managers found that just 18% of companies had a contingency plan that identified someone who could fill the shoes of an essential senior executive. “It is not an easy conversation to have,” said Peter Hausdorf, an associate professor of industrial psychology at the University of Guelph, who wrote the study with PhD candidate Rebecca Slan Jerusalim. “Who wants to ask the ceo what he thinks will happen when he leaves or if something happens to him?” Difficult or not, Hausdorf believes companies that don't have that conversation are flirting with danger. “If something happens and you have to respond during a crisis, you may put the wrong person in that role.” A company without a key top executive might appear rudderless, resulting in uncertainty for leaders and employees, Hausdorf said. A prolonged void could also trigger an internal catfight, with senior leaders jockeying for the coveted top job.
In addition to looking at short-term succession plans, the study also looked at whether companies are pursuing long-term strategies to identify exceptional employees as future executives and foster their talents. The looming retirement of the baby boomer bulge will leave some very senior corner offices vacant over the next decade. However, this study found that less than a third - 31% - of Canadian companies had programs to identify and develop future leaders. Most companies prefer to promote one of their own, he said, since they will get someone who is up to speed on the business and the clients, as well as the internal culture. Nevertheless, the corporate practice of spotting high-potential up-and-comers and grooming them for management positions is relatively new, Hausdorf said.
(Globe and Mail 070221)
This is EXACTLY the conversation I've had with people recently. Why aren't corporations more concerned about this? Why aren't the Boomers who know they are in a position to retire in the next five years putting definitive succession plans into place? Like the conclusion we made on this, I believe most of them are more focused on their retirement nest egg rather than the long term health of the company they work for or the long-term health of the economy.