Insight Blog

Finding and Supporting a Successor

Finding and Supporting a Successor In January 2022, three members of the Helbling team presented a live Lunch and Learn webinar to more than 100 ERAPPA (Eastern Region of APPA) members. Here are some key takeaways from the hour-long session titled, “Five Ways to Succeed in Succession Planning.” 

In a previous blog post, we recently covered how to begin succession planning. This second post in this series covers looking for talent and supporting the new leader once they have been identified.

1.  Make the opportunity known internally and externally:
  • Announce the pending retirement/departure.
  • Draft a position description.
    • Use inclusive, unbiased language.
    • Consult HR and diversity manager/officer for assistance.
  • Post and advertise the position.
  • Utilize internal and external platforms.
  • Reach general facilities professionals (APPA).
  • Contact professional organizations (architecture, engineering, construction).
  • Contact organizations that support historically underrepresented groups.
  • Use mainstream platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed.

2.  Approach potential internal candidates you may have overlooked:
  • Consider number two leaders of the department.
  • Consider those (with the appropriate qualifications) from other departments at the college, university, or school.
  • Consider those from “sister schools” or within a state system.
  • Consider those who manage other campuses and complexes, such as corporate, healthcare, and the military.

3.  Whether candidates are from inside or outside the organization, conduct a fair and thorough evaluation:
  • Use hiring rubrics or other evaluation tools to help mitigate bias in the decision-making process.
  • Consult a third-party organization for an objective assessment of talent.

4.  Have an interim solution:
  • Leverage the opportunity when the current leader is away for vacation or business travel for top internal candidate(s) to have a trial run.
  • If a retirement or departure is quickly approaching, consider temporary help. 
  • Compile a list of recently retired individuals from other organizations, independent contractors, and/or third-party management groups to step in until a successor is identified.

5.  Support the successor:
  • Provide and explain the organizational structure of the department and the institution. Document reporting relationships (to/from).
  • Discuss the mission, vision, and goals of the department and the institution. Share campus plans.
  • Cover expectations of leadership in the first month, quarter, and year.
  • For an outside hire, provide training in computer applications and platforms used by the department.
  • Publish and share a glossary of terms and acronyms.
  • Schedule time for the new leader to meet direct reports and peers to learn more about their roles.
  • When possible and appropriate, allow for overlap with the current leader so they can train their successor, emphasizing the transfer of knowledge and relationships.
  • Continually evaluate the successor and the succession planning process as it applies to other positions within the department.
If a pending retirement or another departure has caused you to think about the challenges of replacing a facilities leader, please contact us to connect with a Helbling search consultant.