It’s been hard to miss the news recently about the tumult in the White House Press Office. First, the resignation of Sean Spicer as Acting White House Communications Director and the appointment and abrupt firing of Anthony Scaramucci in Spicer’s place, leaving the CD role empty. Then the firing of Reince Preibus (who, as Chief of Staff, oversees Press Office functions), and the hiring and installation of John Kelly in his place. It’s an upheaval that brings many questions, and few concrete answers from recognized leaders within the Office.
While the absence of a Communications Director makes it difficult to communicate effectively with stakeholders and audiences (we’ll talk about the importance of a crisis communication plan in a future blog post!), the most interesting takeaway in this turmoil is actually the importance of leadership development and succession planning in ensuring smooth transitions within corporate structures.
Succession planning and business growth are long-term strategies, and they require sufficient planning and prep work to be successful. If a leadership transition is in your company’s future – at any level! -, a clear understanding of how it will happen, who will transition in and when, and what, if any knowledge transfers or organizational changes might happen as a result helps temper any anxiety within the ranks or adverse changes to your corporate culture.
Some good steps to consider:
- Depth test your staff. Not sure if there’s a future leader in your existing organization? There’s nothing better than growing your own talent. Leadership assessments can help identify potential candidates’ leadership styles, uncover their existing strengths, and help them plot an individualized course for further development.
- Test drive outside candidates. If your potential replacement candidate is from outside the company, bring them in ahead of time and rotate them through functional areas to give them hands-on experience in your work while simultaneously introducing them to the personnel and departments they’ll one day be working with or supervising.
- Document, document, document. Whenever there’s a transition in personnel, there’s an inevitable loss of knowledge. Until we can download the contents of a person’s brain, the best course of action is to systematically document the outgoing staff member’s responsibilities, their processes, and their training tips for an eventual replacement.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. There’s no sense in having a succession plan if it’s not communicated. Without appropriate communication to both management and lower-level employees, there’s too much room for rumor milling, water cooler speculation, and overly creative imaginations to distract employees from meaningful work and derail your attempts to maintain a positive, productive corporate culture during the transition.
And above all else…
- Start early! Vacancies can be crippling. By implementing a simple documentation plan or building a leadership training program for existing staff, you’ll better position your business to weather whatever turnover you might experience in the future.
Contact M•power about our corporate culture and leadership development services, or visit our website at http://mpoweryourbusiness.com/services/training.