A Third of Companies Don’t Have Management Succession Plans

May 24, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly one-third (31%) of companies with more than 1,000 employees said they don’t currently have a succession planning program at their organization.

In addition, 50% of senior management (CEO, CFO, Senior VP, etc.) and 52% of those in a vice president position said they do not have a successor for their current role.  

CareerBuilder noted that the lack of succession planning can adversely affect an organization in a variety of ways, from the absence of strategic direction to decreased productivity to weakened financial performance. More than one-quarter (27%) of companies said they’ve been adversely affected financially by poor succession planning or a lack thereof.   

Employers cited the recession as an obstacle to effective succession planning. More than one-quarter (28%) of companies said that the recession has left gaps in their succession plans due to downsizing or workers leaving voluntarily.   

When asked what is lacking in their current succession planning program, companies said: 

  • Not enough opportunities for employees to learn beyond their own roles – 39%; 
  • Process isn’t formalized – 38%; 
  • Not enough investment in training and development – 33%; 
  • Not actively involving employees or seeking their input – 31%; and 
  • It only focuses on top executives – 29%. 


Managers also reported that workers’ awareness of and input on their own succession planning is important. Forty-nine percent of employers said employees don’t set up career paths with their managers with timelines and milestones.  

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 1,097 employers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over with 1,001 or more employees between February 21 and March 10, 2011.