What Do Succession Planning and Aging Parents have in Common?

I’ve discussed the issue of aging parents numerous times and am currently at the place in life where I’m starting to put a plan together to make sure that if and when something happens to either of my parents, the transition will be a smooth one. Whether an illness, an accident or perhaps my parents come to the point they can no longer take care of themselves, proactive preparedness is a much better approach than avoiding the inevitable.

When we’re younger, we tend to think that things will always stay the same, we’ll always have the friends in high school – heck, our kids will play ball together -- and we’ll have weekend BBQ’s in our backyard for years to come. We even assume that our parents will never change and will always be the solid rock to our family foundation. We never expect them to become frail, much less come to a place where they’ll have to be cared for.

Because we have thought in these terms, we’re not prepared. We’ve put off making an action plan of “What if?” What if while we’re away on business we receive a call that Mom or Dad has fallen and will spend the next several weeks in the hospital and then several months in rehab? We then find out that they’ll actually never be going back to their home of 35 years because they’re too fragile. Things start to get real.

We’re abruptly faced with the realization that we have no idea what do to in this now “crisis” situation because we haven’t prepared. We’re forced to make decisions in the middle of critical chaos and have involuntary had to assume the role of family caregiver. If we had just made preparations ahead of time things would have gone much more smoothly and our life would be less chaotic.

The same scenario can happen in our organizations. What if Joe Blow decides to retire? What if your over-worked CEO has a stroke (these things happen)? Who’s going to step up to the plate and take the lead? Have we’ve prepared, planned and mentored those who are fully capable of making this an easy transition?

Succession planning is nothing more than having a systematic process in place where managers identify, assess and develop their staff to make sure they are ready to assume key roles within the company. Thinking “on down the road” and not for the moment, as I used to tell my daughter. This makes the hiring process a critical piece of the puzzle.

Similarly to having a plan together with eldercare, the same is true at work. If these processes are not proactively in place, you’re liable to have a catastrophe. The individuals who are “next in line” will eventually be responsible for making sure that the company is able to continue running smoothly as opposed to shutting down the whole shebang because no one knows what’s going on. 

It’s vital to the wellbeing of our employees, and the overall success of our organizations.

Here’s a great resource to help you get started.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: