Succession Planning is Like House Breaking – It Doesn’t Happen Over Night

We have exciting news to share. Please join us in welcoming Rio to the Labrador family!

This bouncing, precious pup is the little brother to Fly, our President and CEO Laurent Rouyrès’s 10-year-old Labrador Retriever. It should come as no surprise that Laurent and his family love Labs, and they are thoroughly enjoying the joy and hilarity Rio provides, especially during the unprecedented, global COVID-19 crisis.


Many of us know, however, that bringing a new puppy home comes with plenty of challenges. Doors are scratched, puddles are left on the floor, and the odd loafer is chewed (why is it always the left one?). It is unreasonable and unfair to expect a puppy to behave perfectly from day one – he’s had no training and no opportunity to learn from his experiences. Should the Rouyrès family be surprised or disappointed when Rio doesn’t respond to their commands as Fly does? Of course not, these things take time and effort.

All of this puppy talk has us thinking…

If we recognize that training a dog requires time, patience, and preparedness, shouldn’t companies approach succession planning with the same care?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused corporations around the world to assess their operations and pivot as needed, all while ensuring continued transparency to protect stakeholder trust. In a time when mandates are changing daily and individual health and wellness are paramount, companies must also consider how to prepare for the unexpected absence of key personnel – short- or long-term. Who will step in to fill each critical role? More importantly, are those successors prepared to do so?

Harvard Business Review notes that placing someone in a new role sooner than expected, especially during times of crisis, is risky and could lead to failure. Such a decision creates a very challenging experience that could result in the loss of a promising leader in the organization. Imagine declaring little Rio “housebroken” without any training or practice and then being frustrated when he has an accident. Poor puppy! As with this scenario, thrusting executives into their new roles without proper preparation does not set up these potential “good dogs” for success.

If your company is taking the time to think about your succession plan (and you should be), here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If there isn’t an obvious, immediate choice to fill an important role, consider appointing a more seasoned interim successor who can provide ready guidance in a time of crisis and provide short-term stability.
  • If it isn’t already part of your board’s agendas, make succession a key topic for leadership moving forward. Regular review and adjustments foster a more seamless transition, even in times of crisis.
  • Ensure you are balancing your industry’s disclosure obligations with the person in question’s personal privacy concerns.

So, what do succession planning and puppy training have in common? Neither happens overnight and both require regular effort to ensure success. So sit, stay, and get to planning!

By |2020-08-18T09:56:53-04:00August 14th, 2020|Categories: Lab Insight|Comments Off on Succession Planning is Like House Breaking – It Doesn’t Happen Over Night
Nous n'avons pas pu confirmer votre inscription.
Thanks for your subscription!

Sign up to receive our blog and latest studies