Succession = Successful: The Importance of Succession Planning & Best Practices

By K&R Managing Director Sally Day


That’s the number of Americans turning 65 every day, or 4.1 million every year from 2024 to 2027 according to estimates from the Retirement Income Institute at Alliance for Lifetime Income. Why should you care about this statistic? Your CEO may be planning to sail off into the sunset with the rest of the cohort but it’s not too late to start succession planning.

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders within an organization to ensure smooth transitions when key positions become vacant. It involves assessing current talent, developing individuals with the necessary skills and experiences, and creating a roadmap for potential advancement into critical roles. There’s a bonus beyond a smooth transition, although that is a very enticing reason. Succession planning drives engagement.

Imagine this: The CEO or Board Chair walks into your office and communicates that your organization is undertaking a formal succession planning activity, you’ve been identified as a potential successor to the CEO, and they would like you to participate in the process. They ask you about your career interests. You decide to participate in the process and walk away with a development plan, definitive steps that to support you being “CEO ready.” There are no promises, gifts or guarantees, but you have a new pep in your step.

The food and agriculture industries are facing real challenges which increase the need to get this process right. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Start early. Identifying and developing internal successors takes time.
  • Go deeper than the CEO. In addition to senior management roles, what unique individual roles are critical to the business?
  • Anticipate how a role will change in the future. Identifying new skills and competencies will drive clear criteria for identifying potential successors.
  • Invest in a professional assessment of skills and competencies of potential successors. Experienced third party, objective facilitators are an investment to ensure that the process is successful.
  • Fancy software or tools are not necessary. Rather, deliberate communications are.
  • It’s not a one and done exercise. Succession plans are living documents, monitoring progress, providing feedback and adjusting as needed.

By leveraging the expertise of trusted talent advisors for succession planning, organizations experience time savings, specialized knowledge, accountability, objectivity, and a tailored approach that aligns with the organization’s unique needs. If you’d like to learn more about succession planning for your organization, contact one of our Executive Coaches at Kincannon & Reed.

Resources: Retirement Income Institute