Companies in transition must signal stability, continuity and reliability
A high-profile civic leader launching a nonprofit. A patriarch steering a family business. A beloved CEO nurturing a company to new heights. These are all wonderful elements for a brand — until they’re not.
Life happens, and sometimes it’s jarring. A sudden illness or accident has the potential to throw a brand into crisis. But you can be ready, regardless of how dramatic the leadership transition.
A succession plan is Part One of maintaining stability and continuity. Part Two is being prepared to expeditiously communicate that plan.
At most companies, meeting payrolls, boosting sales and controlling expenses top the corporate must-do list. Succession plans for key executives may not be accorded that level or priority. In fact, about two thirds of U.S. companies have no succession plans at all.
More alarming is that even those with a succession plan often overlook how to communicate significant changes to key constituents –– employees, board members, suppliers and customers. In many cases, especially in small or family-owned companies, lines of succession may appear to be obvious. What’s not obvious is the need to communicate the implications of succession.
Companies in transition must signal stability, continuity and reliability. Failure to have a plan risks sending the opposite message. Customers and clients accustomed to a company’s stable leadership will be unsettled by any change of leadership.
Elements of a succession communications plan include:
· A holding statement that can be used immediately in the case of an illness, accident or unexpected death
· An internal announcement to board members and employees
· A statement and background materials for local and industry media in all markets in which the company operates
· A social media plan and content
· Communication to customers, vendors and, in the case of nonprofits, donors and members
Clear, timely communication is always important — and even more so when your organization is in transition.