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Preparing for the Transition-Are You Ready?

We all know that change is inevitable, but when you consider the impact of shifting demographics on corporate America, the potential impact of that change is startling. Baby Boomers, who currently occupy the vast majority of key executive positions, are retiring at a rate of about 10,000 per day. That means that a lot of companies will be searching for new leaders in a smaller pool of Generation X and Y talent.

Here are four questions you should ask to make sure your company does not end up drowning in that pool.

Do you have a plan, and have you taken the time to put it in writing?

If you do not have a plan and are facing a transition in the next few years, you are setting yourself up for trouble. While having a plan is not a guarantee, you will at least have a fighting chance. If you think you have a plan but it is not in writing, you are not only setting yourself up for trouble. Or you may also be in denial.

Solution: Develop a written plan.

Are individuals aware of their responsibilities?

If you have a plan, but have not communicated the plan to the people responsible for the plan’s execution, then you do not really have a plan. Referring back to the first question, since you do not really have a plan, then you are in trouble, as illustrated below:

If No Plan = Trouble


No Communication = No Plan


No Communication = Trouble

Solution: Share the plan and get feedback to make sure it does not have any glaring problems and that those who are responsible for its execution have bought into it.

Have they been trained?

If individuals are aware of responsibilities but have not received the training necessary to fill their planned roles, then one of two outcomes is highly likely: a) there will be a lot of pain as people stumble around breaking glass before they finally get it right or b) they will completely mess up and drive the company into the ground (along with your nest egg).

Solution: Develop a detailed professional development plan to groom your successors, periodically assess their progress, and adjust, as necessary.

Have your successors groomed their successors?

It is not just about filling your shoes. Every spot vacated by people moving up in the organization also needs to be filled by someone else. But having the people is only part of the problem, because it may also take time to develop their skills. If you have not identified and formalized development plans for these people, then you have some work to do.

Solution: Start looking at your pipeline now and, if the talent is not there, consider investing in it now. Once you get the right people in the right seats, make sure you identify and invest in the skills they need to take on additional responsibilities.

One final point to underscore the importance of having a plan: things do not always go as planned. Unforeseen issues are bound to arise that may complicate the transition or result in the need to accelerate its timing. If you wait too long, you may run out of time, undermining the likelihood of success.

Life has no guarantees, but working through these issues in a proactive, methodical manner can dramatically increase the odds of a successful transition.

Christopher F. Meshginpoosh can be reached at Email or 215.441.4600.

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