Shocking Succession Planning

Duke, Sydney and Jax

Duke, Sydney and Jax


My dogs have turned into criminals.  It started in May when I purchased a beautiful Australian Shepherd puppy for my husband as a birthday gift.  You see, here on our farm, we use working dogs to help us.  They are fantastic company.  Smart dogs.  I even think at times they are managing us.  Our male Australian Shepherd is aging.  So it seemed a good idea to bring in a puppy and train.  Succession planning if you will.

It’s been a long time since we have had a puppy.  We named him Jax.  Quickly I realized we should’ve named him Chewie.  600 acres of trees, but the 18 wooden posts around my house seemed more tasty. 

What was once a semi organized shop area quickly turned into a recycling center for trash and debris.

My wonderful, sensitive, sweet border collie turned sour.  She would just sit on the porch and stare at me as though I had destroyed her purpose in life.

The only constant was Duke, the older male dog.  He seemed happy.  One of his own kind had entered the picture.  He mentored puppy by laying down the law as dogs do.  He was the Alpha.  And he established that org chart immediately and firmly.

After the latest destruction to personl property, I’m certain the result of Jax, we made a decision to kennel the dogs while we were away from the house.  It’s a shame all three dogs were punished because of Jax exuberance for the unkown.  But there is a limit to my tolerance. 

I thought I would give them a treat while they were in jail.  I opened the kennel door and ducked in to give them treats.  What I failed to recognize was the fact my husband had turned the electric fence on.  He even told me he was going to do to it, I just simply forgot.  The electric fence runs along the top of the chain link fence.  A result of Jax latest prison break.  I failed to duck enough.  I hit that electric fence with my head.  It felt like someone had hit me with a brick.  Knocked me off my feet.  I sat on the ground dazed and confused.  Sight was a tad blurry.  I looked over to my left and saw three dogs looking at me almost to say, “what up c’tain”.  They were super still as I crawled out of the pen.  Dog food everywhere. 

How does that relate to true succession planning in the corporate world?  Do we bring people onto our team only to experience team members establishing themselves as the Alpha?  Then others having their routine and value so shaken they become frustrated and lose their way?  Or have someone charge forward with excitement and energy only to leave trails of destruction?

How can we avoid those mishaps?  Follow the simple, yet often forgotten, steps.

1.     Value each team member individually as you fill your bench.  Have uplifting, positive messaging that is personal.  Not a group introduction.  Group introductions are only good for one purpose and that is to initiate delegation of responsibility.

2.     Caution the new member to learn before fix.  Too many times, those of us with large amounts of energy, will try to fix all the issues before truly understanding what the problems really are.  Too often more senior team members have learned the culture and learned the politics to be effective.  Learn through them, rather than focusing on what “we” can do.

3.     Promote collaboration.  I think too often we think collaboration is project review.  That is not collaboration.  Providing input or resources to meet an objective is more the focus.

4.     Lay out clear objectives and career path possibilities.  As we enter a new world it is critical to see a future and the path to achieve it.  Too often we enter a new world and three years later we are still onboarding.  That cannot ever be effective or efficient.

5.     Provide challenging work to all team members.  Don’t allow the team to go stale.  Rotate responsibilities.  Encourage innovation.  As team members encounter newer team members on their team, they will feel threatened.  It is completely natural.  This is an opportunity to up the game by asking existing team members for new results.   Take advantage of the new energy!

6.     Don’t be discouraged or shocked by chaos.  Out of chaos comes creativity.  The first many months will provide a certain level of debris and confusion.  It’s okay.  Expect it and watch for it.


Passion = Pride + Grit

Passion = Pride + Grit