Plan ahead for smooth business transitions

Business leaders are responsible for planning an organization’s future. This typically includes a multiyear business plan, but another component is succession planning — the process of selecting and growing people to fill key roles in the future.

At Molina Healthcare, we focus on quality, relying on solid operating strategies and sound business practices. But we also keep an eye on the future, never forgetting that our business directly affects the well-being of hundreds of thousands of patients throughout Ohio, as well as our employees.

My recent promotion to regional vice president of Molina Healthcare Inc. and that of Ami Cole to my former role as president of Molina Healthcare of Ohio is a good example of well-executed succession planning. Promoting from within and grooming employees ensures seamless transitions during times of rapid growth, and builds a healthy corporate culture.

Adapting to change

Change is always difficult, but well-executed succession plans allow those taking on new roles time to learn from the employee exiting the position. Give both executives three or more months to transition, so responsibilities don’t become lost in the shuffle. This allows managers to schedule important activities, assuming ownership gradually.

Sometimes change comes with little warning — an unexpected retirement or new business opportunity. Good succession planning helps businesses adapt to these sudden changes because when one key employee leaves or takes on new responsibilities, a qualified replacement is on deck. This is why it’s also important to hire direct reports you can envision in your role.

Fostering employee morale

Good succession plans also directly benefit employees by demonstrating a clear path for strong performers. Good leaders know that investing their time, energy and thinking into growing others as leaders pays off.

Knowing there are opportunities for advancement is a great morale-builder and creates a positive culture that extends far beyond those most recently promoted. When employees see it’s possible to move through departments and ranks based on their interests and accomplishments, they work harder to reach personal and company goals.

Three rules for succession planning

No matter what kind of business you run, it’s never too late to put a plan in place, and it is never too early to plan for the future. Three keys are:

  1. Create professional development plans for key positions, and identify potential succession candidates, helping them work on development now so they are ready when the time comes.
  2. Provide enough turnover time for new managers to acclimate to the challenges. Ideally, the previous executive will remain in place for several months. The overlap ensures retention of corporate knowledge and culture.
  3. Whenever possible, promote from within. This maintains a company identity and generates positive morale.


Amy Schultz Clubbs is the Regional Vice President of Molina Healthcare Inc.