Succession Planning: How to Future Proof your Organization

May 13, 2021 | By: Jamal Johnson and Charles Huffstetler

Any organization with an eye for longevity and endurance has developed a succession strategy. Succession planning plays an important role in hiring practices, talent development, and ensuring the future success of an organization.

Not only does having a thorough succession plan help new professionals succeed in the industry and prepare for the future, but it helps veteran professionals learn new tactics and improve their work lives as well.

Setting the Stage

Succession planning can be as much about hiring as it is about existing employees. Hiring the right pieces to develop and innovate within your company is what is going to lay the right foundation for later succession conversations. Jamal Johnson, general manager with Prologis and vice chair of BOMA Philadelphia, said that the hunt for the right talent is a constant one.

“You should always be looking for the next wave of trendsetters, trailblazers, and people who would like to step to the forefront,” Johnson said.

It is also important for succession planning to acclimate new hires correctly to the organization. Charles Huffstetler, a management consultant, said that even a great hiring process does not mean the hired talent is ready to jump in immediately. Work must be done to bring even the best fit candidate up to speed.

“The culture of an organization is kind of like the flow of a river. Every organization has a flow and your employee has to get in the flow and figure out why things are done and how they are done,” Huffstetler said.

Training Up

Creating the next manager or CEO means investment from the top. Employees that feel appreciated and invested in are more likely to stay and learn and one day rise to leadership. Huffstetler said mentorship and conversation with the next generation is key to improving their professional lives and the lives of their mentor.

“We should be willing to ask employees: is there a better way to do this? Is there a more cost-effective
way? We need to gather input from everyone and not be afraid to challenge the status quo a little bit,” Huffstetler said

When training or mentoring, it is important to show all aspects of the job. Too often a new person begins a position and is suddenly met with challenges they were not aware were tied to the position. Johnson said that honesty will make candidates for promotion more prepared and better at their eventual jobs.

“That exposure to the daily ins and outs is vital,” Johnson said. “That exposure to the failures and the things that are difficult is often more valuable than exposure to successes.”

Being the Trainee

As much as succession planning is the responsibility of those in charge, it is the responsibility of the next generation to be receptive and attentive mentees. Mentees should be a sponge and learn from everyone around them regardless of position.

Property professionals that learn about all the different aspects of their industry, from engineering to asset management, will make better candidates for promotion.

“Don’t be afraid to take from people. Don’t be afraid to take a management style and say ‘Y’know what? I am going to put my personality into that because that is valuable to me.’” Johnson said.

The next generation of property professionals should find mentors in and outside of their industry and company. They should ask questions and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Ultimately, it will be the best students and the best listeners that will learn the most and be the best candidate for promotion.


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