Replacing A Good Horse

There is a critical need for succession planning in the c-store industry

What do we really mean by the term “succession planning?” William J. Rothwell in his 1994 book: “Effective Succession Planning,” describes the process as “an effort designed to ensure effective performance by making provisions for the development and replacement of key positions and work activities over time.” The stark reality is that baby boomers are retiring at an alarming rate and companies without a succession plan in place will be the first to fail.

To say that the c-store industry is behind the eight ball on this issue is an understatement. In 1991, Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, stated: “From now on, choosing my successor is the most important decision I’ll make. It occupies a considerable amount of thought almost every day.” Obviously Welsh got into the succession planning game well before it was in vogue. Today, talent management continuity is job No. 1 for every c-store executive group.

From family-run businesses to large corporations, there are a few critical decisions that a progressive c-store group can implement to immediately establish a succession planning process. Below are 10 steps for consideration:

  1. Formally establish a written five-year succession plan that is CEO/ board initiated and adopted.
  2. Create a short-term emergency succession plan to handle unexpected replacement needs.
  3. Update management job descriptions and create a managers’ tasks matrix of who does what.
  4. Initiate a training enhancement program specific to skills replacement.
  5. Identify critical, key-function management personnel nearing retirement.
  6. Closely monitor performance evaluations to uncover internal hidden talent.
  7. Start a job rotation process for younger top-tier performers.
  8. Begin an external hiring initiative to fill future key-position voids.
  9. Develop a mentoring program between current executives and future leaders.
  10. Implement a compensation rewards policy for those assuming upgraded responsibilities.

In the suggested scenario, current executives should be held accountable for not having a succession plan. Likewise, the succession plan should extend beyond executives and into midmanagement.

There is no time like the present to get the ball moving on a backfill strategy. As an industry, we have shown leadership in all other areas of business operation. There is nothing more important than the quality of our people both today and tomorrow. Let’s rein in those leadership qualities with a solid plan of succession. We need a new stable of talent.

George Benson is a c-store/retail petroleum veteran, vice president, market strategies at Haskel Thompson & Associates, and a consummate believer in Million-Dollar Producer recruiting.

For more information, e-mail Benson at george@ or log on to: www.HiringMillion

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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