Why You Need a Roadmap for Emergency Succession

Suppose your organization had to name a CEO on two occasions within one year. The challenge would be to transition to the new leadership quickly and successfully. Such a transition would be important to keeping continuity, which reassures employees, customers or clients and investors that the organization will continue on as before.

A road stretching out into the sky from a tablet lying in a grassy field

Would your company be plunged into operational chaos if one of its leaders left because of a career opportunity elsewhere or a "no confidence" board vote? What if an executive suffered a personal or family crisis, a debilitating injury or illness — or even death? Although a key employee departure is challenging, your organization can mitigate the outcome with a well-conceived and properly executed emergency succession plan.

Answer the Tough Questions

Emergency succession plans are a hybrid of traditional, long-term succession plans and disaster recovery plans. They account for the employees who fill the top spots on your executive roster and build in contingencies should any of these key staff members abruptly disappear.

From a staffing perspective, an emergency succession plan needs to answer the most pressing questions that typically arise in the wake of a top executive's sudden departure, including:

Devise a Communication Strategy

Outlining how you'll communicate with key audiences during an emergency succession situation is just as important as outlining the process for filling the vacated role. Sudden change can wreak havoc on customer confidence and employee morale, so you must communicate quickly and effectively.

The communication portion of an emergency succession plan should focus on:

Be as Ready as Possible

Because you can't envision every possible scenario, even the most carefully crafted emergency succession plan will have its limitations. So keep your plan focused on the most likely scenarios that could strike your company.

Knowing your plan of attack before you need it ensures that you'll spend your time managing the succession, not scrambling to figure out where to start.

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