By Karen Higginbottom – Forbes

In June this year, Intel’s Brian Krzanich was forced to resign as CEO after it was discovered he had a consensual relationship with an employee. Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan has stepped in as interim CEO and the board has begun its search for a permanent replacement. The news of Krzanich’s departure highlights the danger of organizations failing to have succession plans in place when an unforeseen event happens.

Succession planning is concerned with identifying business-critical roles that if unfilled for a prolonged period of time could leave a business vulnerable, says Ally Weeks, HR consultant for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

“When linked with a talent management program, these potential risks can be mitigated by identifying and developing longer-term successors as well as short-term replacements. Each talent pool should be considerably larger than the range of posts it covers.”

It’s vital to have succession plans in place for top performers and those in business-critical roles, comments Tom Moran, CEO of Addison Group.

“A lack of succession planning leads to uncertainty, which has a negative impact on companies of all sizes. Whether it’s a negative impact on company culture, a loss of knowledge of quality of output that effects client satisfaction or financial damage due to scared investors- a lack of succession planning opens companies up to risk.”

The impact of a lack of succession planning can be quite substantial, remarks Dr. Ines Wichert, managing director for leadership consultancy Talupp.

“Leadership development is all about getting leaders ready. Good leaders are important for organizations to stay competitive. They enable that through strong vision and staying focused through difficult times for the organization. Good leaders do improve team performance. When there is no succession planning, organizations find it hard to replace a leader with a good leader. There is increased unrest in organizations and in times of organizational changes to have stability at the top is critical.”

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