Are you planning 1-Year in advance for succession planning?

Are you planning 1-Year in advance for succession planning?

Long-term care organizations across the industry are experiencing exits of vital senior leaders from key management positions due to retirement. Therefore, there is an urgent need for experienced C – sweet leadership to fill the ensuing void. This same principle applies to continuing care and retirement communities as well as other senior living organizations.

The senior living sector and their management teams are presently entrenched in a paradigm shift of the industry to service diversification, industry consolidation, as well as changes in compliance regulations. However, the grooming of successive executive leaders has not been a focal point in the senior care industry. There have been multiple studies revealing an impending exit of executives due to retirement. Unfortunately, the number of qualified candidates able to take up the helm of leadership is currently insufficient.

Why prepare?

In order to avoid the coming leadership shortage there is an imperative need to actively implement a detailed succession plan for senior living organizations. There may be no industry as critical as senior living where succession planning is required to attain seamless transition.

Having a successful succession plan should be comprised of the following:

  • Mentorship program
  • The initiation of an ongoing appraisal system for prospective leaders
  • Long-term vision
  • Contingency planning for an unforeseen void of a key leadership event
  • Maintaining communications and database of perspective talent outside the existing organization
  • developmental programs built into the succession plan that provide exposure across multiple internal skill sets and disciplines.
  • A keen proactivity with governance, compliance, and regulations

In a quick scan of 38 senior living organization ranging across a wide spectrum of sizes, it was found that over 40% of the leaders have been with their organization for the last 10 years.  It was not unusual to see the CEO having been with the organization for over 20 years. This type of prolonged stay in office can be counterproductive when making room for continuity and succession planning. There is a risk of organization becoming complacent with an existing leadership structure and losing fact for the need to be proactive towards development of new leadership.

Fewer than 45% of executives say their companies have a process for conducting CEO succession planning, according to a survey by InterSearch Worldwide. Establishing a C-suite succession plan should be a fundamental obligation of any public or private company. This is regardless of size or senior living industry niche.  For smaller companies, only 17% of these firms had any type of leadership succession planning.

In a market that actively competes for leadership it is erroneous to assume that quick recruitment of best– fit leaders from outside the organization can result in a quick and seamless transition.  An organization must have a well-developed plan for this “outsider” transition as the timeframe from recruitment to start date can take as long as 6-months, with another 3-6 months for this candidate to become effective in the hand-off of responsibilities.  Are you thinking 1-year out today for your succession plan?


Timing is critical.  Succession planning is not always the top of the agenda. Typically, more critical operational factors take its place on leadership in board meetings. Therefore, planning for succession has many facets and needs to be outlined in a specific project timeline.  The succession requires a “champion” who will be the forefront of making this transition a priority.

Occasionally a committee is formed; however, it is important this group is not too large as the process can be slowed. Obtaining input on the critical attributes of the successor should be outlined prior to any search or succession plan. Is there consideration for diversification, does the vision of the organization require experience in acquisition and/or capital acquisition, how important is innovative operations, and/or social responsibility?

The art of planning for succession in senior living goes way beyond the future C-suite participants. It is about securing the future of the organization and ensuring its continuity in an ever-challenging healthcare and business environment.

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