Sport Wales recently reached out to a consultant from our Governance and Leadership Expert Panel around best practise within succession planning.
Here’s what James Allen from Counsel Ltd shared.
Succession planning: The Board
These guidance notes and the diagnostic tool are aimed primarily at the Board – with the Chair taking lead responsibility for succession planning (possibly supported by a Nominations Committee or similar).
Succession planning is a key function of any board but can often be neglected and happen on a reactive basis when someone is about to leave, or even has already left. A more proactive view of succession planning, identifying risks and the kinds of skills that will be needed in future is an important part of an effective Board.
The Board also has a responsibility to ensure the overall health of the organisation and should also be involved in discussions about ensuring that a succession plan is in place for key staff positions (where applicable). This is going to be particularly pressing in some areas of specialist skills – for example safeguarding and finance.
Here are some key questions for any Board to use to reflect and discuss how it can develop an effective succession plan:
- Have you got an up to date record of all current Board members and terms? How can you use this information to have regular, open conversations about future plans?
- How does the Board use an up to date skills assessment to help identify current gaps?
- What role do regular Board member’s appraisals play in planning for the future?
- What current networks does the Board have to find future members? How can the Board reach new people beyond current contacts?
- How are Committees being used as an opportunity to develop new potential candidates?
- How can the Board link discussions around succession planning with best practice (as well as specific requirements) around equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)?
- Does the loss of Board members and their skills currently feature on the Board’s risk register? What conversations does the Board have around succession planning and the risks this presents?
- Can Board terms be arranged to make sure that there are overlaps and that several people will not be likely to leave at once?