Canadian Vending

Features Business Staffing
Success with succession

August 29, 2013
By Mark Borkowski


Aug. 29, 2013, Canada – Mark Borkowski gives his insight and knowledge on planning ahead to avoid the eventual scramble to find a successor for your business.

Aug. 29, 2013, Canada – Business in the 21st century is more demanding and competitive than ever. Earlier this year at Success Connect Sydney, the president of Success Factors, Shawn Price, highlighted that only four of the original 100 companies on the Financial Times and Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 are still in business today and that 50 per cent of the Fortune 500 have dropped off the list in the last 12 years.

Of course, this is on a broader scale, but it is a sign that businesses need to stay competitive and plan ahead to survive now more than ever.

I am a big believer in organizational sustainability via talent management. Nurturing talent and growing leaders that understand the nature, culture, and politics of their organization not only significantly reduces the cost and effort of bringing on new hires, but also maintains continuity in overall company strategy and execution while retaining knowledge and practices that have been imparted to the workforce.


So why invest in people, only to lose that investment and incur additional costs replacing them? To retain and utilize your best talent, it is imperative to have a genuine career development program alongside a robust and well-maintained, succession-planning program. Together, these programs can increase productivity through learning, mentoring, developing, and preparing future leaders while protecting the positions that are critical to executing your strategy and achieving your long-term goals.
The new, younger generation that is entering the workforce – which will continue to change the workforce demographic as the latter generations begin to retire – are looking not just for jobs, but also for progressive career growth and opportunities.

Simply moving up the chain into junior, middle, and then senior management is not necessarily how individuals want to – or should – move forward (not “up”) in the organization. Career management can commence as soon as someone joins the organization and be mapped to the wants of the individual and the needs of the organization. Don’t be fazed by mismatches; ultimately not everyone will fit into an organization and not everyone will be suitable to move forward. But identify those that can and ensure that their future is carefully constructed to allow growth of the individual as per their needs while allowing the suitability of their skill set, knowledge, competencies, and character to be matched to where it is needed now and/or in the future.
It is critical to have your most important positions – no matter where in the organization – covered with potential successors. And, it is equally important to ensure that your highest performers and those that have the potential to contribute to the organization in critical positions have well-defined career plans that align with the succession plans for the organization.

Succession plans for positions and career plans for individuals are interwoven to develop readiness and results across the company. Ultimately the bench strength of a position (the measurement of how well it is covered by its succession plans) will be dependent on the growth and development of the individuals assigned to its succession plans.
Both succession planning and career development planning are ongoing activities that require commitment from stakeholders, HR, managers, and employees alike.

It is the responsibility of an entire organization to operate these programs and ensure that they deliver results. Change management is an essential component of any implementation of these programs; the organization has to understand the importance not just to the organization as a whole, but also to each individual. There are impacts to rolling out these programs that might not be fully understood, but the benefits should be obvious if the story is told the right way.

All in all, it takes careful planning and execution to introduce new technology and practices to support this type of planning. However, there is no doubt that the long-term benefits will outweigh the early investment and pains of implementing them. It is up to those organizations with a will to survive to have the courage, tenacity, and foresight to challenge their business to become sustainable; velocity is necessary for survival and a clear direction to the future will allow the fittest to survive.

Mark Borkowski is the president of Mercantile Mergers and Acquisitions (MMA) in Toronto. The company specializes in the sale of privately owned Canadian companies. Mark can be contacted at or visit his website for more information,

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