October 16, 2017

How to make your organization more 'retirement-proof'

Daily Briefing

    An earlier version of this story ran on March 2, 2016

    Ideally, an organization would choose when and how to replace its senior leaders and staff. But it isn't always possible to control the "when;" staffing gaps can appear on a moment's notice.

    More than one in every five people working in the health care and social assistance industry are age 55 or older, and you need a strategy to anticipate and plan for staff departures—both those that are expected and unexpected.

    Moody's Investor Service considers succession planning when issuing credit ratings and advises "every board" to "have in place an emergency CEO succession plan, just in case the CEO is unexpectedly incapable of doing his or her job."

    How to plan ahead

    Organizations need to have well-developed succession plans before a leadership crisis, experts say. Kate Vonderhaar, a practice manager with Advisory Board's HR Advancement Center, told the Daily Briefing that "succession planning can't happen overnight."

    But many organizations—particularly hospitals and health systems—don't create comprehensive succession plans ahead of time. One reason, Vonderhaar explains, is that health care executives are overwhelmed by "the prospect of building resource-intensive succession management programs like the ones in corporate America."

    But it is OK to start small, she advises. Some organizations make the mistake of "trying to tackle too much" by putting a succession plan in place for every senior leader at once. Even so, Vonderhaar notes it is also a mistake to draft a succession plan for only the CEO.

    Tools such as the HR Advancement Center's Succession Evaluation Intervention Tool can help leaders decide where to focus. But Vonderhaar adds that organizations can also prepare for leadership transitions by thinking more deeply about how they develop versatile human capital. "I think there is a greater need than ever for high-potential health care leaders to gain experience leading in different parts of the health system," she says.

    Learn more about 'retirement-proofing'

    To learn a two-fold approach to mitigating disruptive staffing gaps due to retirements, join Vonderhaar for a webconference on Tuesday, Oct. 17, "Keep All Your Staff From Retiring At Once."

    Register Now

    And to learn common pitfalls to succession management and how to avoid them, register a webconference on Tuesday, Oct. 24, "How to Establish a Succession Management Process (Before It’s Too Late)."

    Register Now

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