Succession Planning: Not the Sam Allardyce way

Who Will Be Next

Graham Thornton candidate, news & events, blog...

Since yesterday’s [27 September 2016] shock announcement, you would have been unable to escape the mass of news articles surrounding Sam Allardyce exiting his role as England Manager.


After just 67 days and one game into the job, the National team’s shortest serving manager left the role by “mutual agreement” following a newspaper investigation alleging he offered advice on how to get around player transfer rules.


In this unexpected twist to the season, the FA has announced that the top job of England Manager has once more become available and a search for a replacement is underway. With all the speculation as to who is going to succeed Big Sam (and despite my Anfield allegiances and his Spurs and Chelsea connections, the return of Glenn Hoddle may be just what’s required), we should think about succession planning in our own organisations and question how prepared are we for the sudden departure of a significant leader?


In 2015, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) tightened its guidelines on corporate succession planning following serious concerns over the way some large corporations were dealing with new appointments following the unexpected loss of a senior executive. The new FRC guidelines now strongly advise making succession planning a “permanent and continuous exercise”. Proper planning enables organisations to identify and develop potential future leaders. Current corporate governance guidelines state that a company should have plans in place for orderly succession for appointments to maintain an appropriate balance of skills and experience within the company. Without an Adidas or Nike crystal ball it can be difficult to plan for the unexpected however, organisations must be prepared if the worst does happen.


Succession planning key steps:


Identify your areas of risk

So many finance functions fail to look further than senior manager level when putting succession plans together. Well executed succession plans proactively address risks by prioritising the most hard-to-fill positions. They delve deep into the business and identify and evaluate the criticality of not one, but several positions across a finance function.


Identify internal talent

Organisations should identify the risk of underdeveloped potential successors and implement measures to coach and prepare them accordingly. The most effective succession plans prioritise pro-active development of critical leadership capabilities, rather than simply replacing individuals as and when individuals leave and then playing catch up with the individual’s personal development.


Identify the readiness and time-to-replace

Due to the constant requirement for succession planning, as well as increasingly complex job descriptions and skill requirements within leadership roles, organisations should think about how they are going to access the best talent in the market at speed when the situation arises. Finance leaders should be talent champions, heavily involved as active participants throughout the succession management process. Finance leaders should keep in-touch with the market, regularly reviewing CVs and occasionally meeting talented individuals even in the absence of a live requirement. This will give your organisation a head start in today’s highly competitive and rapidly moving market.


As an experienced recruitment partner, Cedar can help your business to identify the critical roles and create a clear plan of succession which can be easily communicated to your finance team and business as a whole. Cedar will work with you and align with your business to ensure that any succession planning initiative is in sync with your short, medium and long-term corporate goals. By hiring the best candidates for both today’s requirement and tomorrow’s growth, intelligent succession planning will provide you with the bandwidth to react and manage business continuity effectively.


If you would like impartial and confidential advice on how to manage your talent pipeline, contact Cedar on +44 (0)203 002 8050.