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  • Elsa Duty, CEO/Owner

Succession Planning: Spot the Winners!

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

A massive number of our Management teams will be retiring in the next 5-10 years. Succession planning remains a top issue for both small and large companies alike right now. Millennial and GenX’ers are looking for this level of responsibility way earlier than their superiors expected 30 years ago.

How do we bridge this gap? How do we find our next generation of leaders who are patient, focused, and good people leaders? As you interview this next band of professionals, what are the key things you should be looking for?


Grit. Read this book by Angela Duckworth. Success is deeply analyzed from all aspects of people’s lives. The author studies everything from Pedigree College Graduates success (MIT, Harvard) vs the Associates Degree “pull-up-by-the-boot-straps” professionals. She studies Athletes, Musicians, etc --- why are some people so successful; is it hard work, luck, combination of both? In reading this book you’ll be able to spot the “gritty” people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work hard.

Athletes & Military Veterans consistently reign high on list of strong performers. They have good team skills, competitive, structured, persistence, good work ethic. Those in other organized activities (Theater, Band, etc) are just as interesting too. It may seem silly to ask a candidate; “What activities did you participate in High School/College” when they have 10+ yrs of industry experience, but the relevancy here is strong. It’s also a great ice breaker, and you learn about the person in front you quickly. Another great question, "What was the first job you ever held?" You're looking for your "Paper Route" people that started young.

Get off the Skills, Get on the Fit; One of our clients utilizes a $20K+ Assessment Interview for their top Executives. It’s a 5-hour interview. One of the main things these people do in assessing talent, is they dig, dig, dig through every scenario in peoples lives. Tell me about Elementary/Middle/High School. Why did you do that activity? Why did you quit? Why did you decide to study X? Why did you change your mind? Eventually those life-patterns show you who this person is. They are 1) relentless in all aspects of life 2) easily give up 3) passionate about many things 4) Open/Close Minded 5) Endless things can be learned by digging into people’s lifestyle --- NOT just their skills for a role.

Patience & Perseverance. Ask the classic question, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Really listen to the answer. If someone has unrealistic ambitions, they will get bored easily. They'll be gone in a year. That doesn't mean this light-experience candidate *can't* climb the ranks extraodinarily fast, we're seeing 20-somethings hit levels of Management faster than ever. But many of those folks are humble, head-down, cranking in their jobs, and getting recognized for it. Good things come to those that think they'll have to wait.

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