• Posted 28/01/2018 9:01pm


It was wonderful to hear the news that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner are expecting their first child in June. Not just because they seem like a lovely couple and it is an exciting time for them but for the country as well. It feels as though our own royal baby is on the way.

Ardern’s decision to start a family whilst in the toughest job in New Zealand is one which will benefit all woman in this country. Her pregnancy will symbolise a lot to working mothers who struggle to get back into the workforce and should help remove the sexist attitude that still remains towards woman who choose to combine career and family.

What was really impressive for me was the planning she has already put in place to ensure that her time off goes without a hitch and should pave the way for businesses in this country for what is required to keep on going when the unexpected arrives. Not unexpected to Ardern herself but for those in her cabinet.

It is the notion of developing a succession plan. Ardern has said that she will be taking six weeks maternity leave when the baby arrives. It is often said that a week is a long time in politics, so six weeks can be an eternity if the right amount of planning is not put in place. She has stated that the planning for how this six weeks will unfold has already begun – planning for who is going to step into her shoes.

This is more than just saying that Winston Peters will step up. It is developing a functional plan for the cabinet in general. But what is a succession plan and how does this relate to you and your business?

Succession planning is a part of the process of preparing for the future of your company. Does this mean you should only plan a succession path for you, the business owner? We suggest that virtually every key position and key person in your organisation is a candidate for a succession plan. The important impact is that it is virtually impossible to successfully promote someone unless there is a trained person to take over the position being vacated.

If you think that you don’t need a succession plan then I ask you to think about the following questions. What will happen to your business if you or a family member becomes unwell? What if a key member of staff is diagnosed with cancer? What if someone resigns at an unfortunate time?

To effectively implement a succession plan, you need to include/consider a number of elements:

  • What is the long-term direction of your business? Do you have an effective strategic plan guiding your course and direction?
  • What are the key areas which require continuity and development of the people resources within your business?
  • Who are the key people you want to develop and nurture for the future?
  • How does the concept of succession planning fit into your strategies? Are you concentrating your efforts in the areas where the returns will be highest?
  • What are the career paths that your most talented people should be following? Is each path customised to fit the abilities and talents of the people involved? A plan that is not dynamic, that does not include the consideration of the individuals involved, is not usually as effective as one that is tailored to each individual's needs and capabilities.
  • Should you wait for openings to appear before promoting someone, or should you make opportunities for each individual as they grow and mature, so that you can keep them challenged and stimulated, and not lose them to other, possibly faster moving companies? Your plan should be proactive, with people moving into different areas for experience and training before they are needed in critical positions, rather than reactive - waiting for openings to occur, then scurrying around to find an appropriate candidate at the last second.

Effective succession planning activities have a positive impact on performance management not only in terms of ensuring that key positions will remain filled with competent performers, but also in terms of saving money on external recruitment and training, which can be significantly more expensive than promoting from within.

While many consider succession planning to be about training, that is just a piece of the process. Certainly training must be put into place to provide employees with the knowledge, skills and abilities they may need to move into future vacancies, but it is the initial assessment of potential vulnerabilities that can impact performance management. For instance, a business at risk of losing a top salesperson without anybody in line to step into that role is vulnerable. By identifying these vulnerabilities early, organisations can assess areas that may be at risk and take steps to identify and train internal successors.

There are many benefits of engaging us at Strategic Management NZ to take care of the future for you. First, we realise that one size doesn’t fit all. There are different approaches which may be used, depending on the situation in each business. In some cases, a business may have to move some people along quickly, in order to expose them to a broad range of experiences, and possibly to fill vacancies. In others, a deeper involvement in selected departments or disciplines may be indicated. Some of this will depend on the culture and processes of the business.

In yet other cases, decisions about the process will depend on the individual’s capabilities and competencies, and the structure and operations of the business. In virtually all situations, your ability to educate and promote will depend on the capabilities and strengths of the people who currently occupy the key positions, and where they will be going in the future - what are they being groomed for?

It may not be vital to have a succession plan for every position in the business, but certainly there are some key areas of responsibility which must be considered. These will vary by business and industry, but as a part of your simplified Strategic Planning process which we will take you through, one important strategic issue will be the need for succession planning for certain, defined key positions.

The advantages for working with us on this are numerous:

  • An ongoing supply of well trained, broadly experienced, well-motivated people who are ready and able to step into key positions as needed.
  • A cadre of desirable candidates who are being integrated into the business with positive goals established for them individually.
  • A flow of these capable people through various departments with the goals of educating them into the culture and processes of the business.
  • Availability of appropriate resources within the business to conform with the future needs of the business.
  • Positive goals for key personnel, which will help keep them with the business and will help assure the continuing supply of capable successors for each of the important positions included in the succession plan.
  • Defined career paths, which will help the company recruit and retain better people.
  • Very likely, the continuous input of ideas to improve the internal processes and procedures of the business, as well as the opportunities to improve the offerings and services of the business in the marketplace.

Jacinda has been in office for less than 100 days, but already she has put her succession plan in place within her cabinet. Because of this the government will function as normal in her absence.

Now is your opportunity to take ownership of your businesses future by booking in with a complementary consult with us,  

Free up your time to see what you do best, book today by contacting us here. Together we can put your businesses jigsaw pieces together. 

14 Jan


Organisations can tend to do this, and it appears that they don’t see the damage that it is causing to their business.

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