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Leadership Lesson Learned at #SHRM13

The Importance of Succession Planning 

Our state council is very fortunate.  Each time I have an opportunity to interact with other state council leaders I’m again reminded of just how well positioned we are.  That’s not an accident.  It’s the result of diligent planning, effective marketing, judicious spending, historical thought leaders and, perhaps most importantly, long-term succession planning.

We do something different in our state.  We know who are leaders are going to be well into the future.  We have a well-defined succession plan.  We have the opportunity to first introduce the inner workings of the organization and then to gradually indoctrinate the upcoming leaders into the structure and operational functions of the Council and the national organization.  By the time they lead the organization, they know the organization.

succession planningThe SHRM Conference is just one of the ways that happens.  On the day before the national conference begins each year, SHRM holds a “Leader’s Briefing.”  This half-day event is an opportunity for the executive staff of SHRM to update the volunteer leaders on goals progress, new initiatives and forthcoming events.  This was my sixth Leader Briefing as an executive committee member of HR Florida State Council.   For some on the executive committee, it was their first.

We were all hearing the results of ideas that I had heard pitched years earlier.  There were new concepts introduced too that will be implemented well after my term on the executive committee has expired.  But, importantly, our new executive committee members were there to hear about them from the beginning.  They know what’s coming and are better equipped to position our state for the future.

How are we different?  Most other states were only represented at the Leader Briefing by their current president.   One or two states also had their 2014 president in attendance.  But, the HR Florida State Council had their Presidents through the year 2024 (if all goes according to the plan) in attendance.

Succession planning matters.  Most other states couldn’t have their upcoming presidents in attendance because they don’t know who they will be.  They either have no succession plan or a very limited one.

One only has to look at how successful our Council has been to understand the importance of identifying future leaders and executing the succession plan.  It’s a fact.  It works.

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joycex125With many years of senior-level human resources experience in the private sector environment, Joyce Chastain, SPHR brings practical know-how to each engagement. Her human resources consulting practice specializes in talent development, employee relations, internal investigations, employment law compliance, and affirmative action plans. She is the owner of Chastain Consulting and currently serves as the 2013-2014 President of the HR Florida State Council.


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  1. I don’t disagree with the point of your post, but I am confused about one thing. How do we know who the President of HR Florida is in a decade? Never really have understood that process

  2. Mike, thanks for your comment and your question.

    We truly don’t know for certain who any of the HR Florida Staye Council leaders will be until after election by the council. We do, however have a succession plan in place that includes investing in the knowledge of those that are in succession to the presidency role. We do that by including the full executive board in SHRM national events.

    Even with the best executed succession plan, things happen. A few years ago the HR Florida president-elect had to step down because of a family member’s illness. The individual that was then serving in the Vice President role was not able to step into the president-elect role because of other temporary commitments. We had to shuffle to keep all of the positions covered. Because all of the executive board, not just the president and president-elect, had been involved in the learning process and in developing relationships with SHRM staff, they had the ability to effectively assume new roles with no disruption to service offerings.

  3. Mike, we have an executive board consisting of 7 positions: Immediate Past President, President, President-Elect, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Conference Director. Each plays a vital role in our succession plan and each role is a 2-year commitment to the organization. So we may not know for sure who will be in place in 2014, but we have a good idea.

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