CCUL Headlines: Industry Insight

Leadership Transitions Part One: 6 tips for better succession planning

Wednesday, February 14, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Susanne Witteborg, CCUL
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Over the course of 2017 and into 2018, several credit unions in the Carolinas have gone through or will be going through leadership succession. In part one of this two-part series, CCUL VP, Human Resources Susanne Witteborg shares her insight on how to build a strong succession plan.

For more than a century, credit unions have evolved, grown and maturedas have many of the individuals in leadership roles within credit unions. Every year, many longtime credit union leaders approach retirement age, leaving behind a real knowledge and leadership void.

Succession planning for key leadership roles should be a critical component of a credit union’s long-term business plan. Succession plans should not only foresee the eventual departure of a CEO or other key leader, but should also identify those employees that may be able to take the helm during a leader’s unexpected absence due to serious illness or other unplanned emergency absence.

Planning ahead allows time for the identification of potential successors for critical roles, as well as time to create a plan to address any experience or skills gaps that candidates may lack. Staff development plans to address skills gaps should be approached systematically, strategically and individually.

The board’s commitment is critical to the development and eventual implementation of any succession plan. Ideally, the board should commit to reviewing the succession plan at least on an annual basis.

Every credit union will have unique needs and approaches to creating a succession plan, but here are some general guidelines that can be useful 1:

  • Consider adding succession planning to the overall strategic plan
  • Review and update the plan as necessary
  • The president/CEO should identify potential successors within the organization, and task each of these leaders with identifying their own development needs
  • Focus on delegating meaningful “Stretch” assignments to potential successors
  • Document all activity for inclusion in succession plan review
  • The CEO should consider identifying, in writing, a candidate to be named interim CEO in the event of the CEO’s sudden, long term absence

Part of your succession plan may also include developing a strategy for recruiting external candidates.

At the end of the day, remember this: the time for discussing these plans is BEFORE the need arises, and documenting the agreed upon approach in your succession plan.

Services offered through CCUL's Credit Union Resources include auditing, CU accounting, human resources, and more. To specifically learn more about succession planning or to request an HR consultation from the Carolinas Credit Union League’s Human Resources Services, contact Susanne Witteborg at or call 800-235-4290, ext 408.



1 PCS Succession Planning Overview & Policy (Pg 3); CCUL HR Services; July 2009

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