Turnover in Leadership Can Be an Opportunity

December 24, 2018

In today’s job market when one of your senior executives decides it is time to leave and gives notice, do not panic.


Use this time to regroup, assess, plan and then execute.  

Some CEO’s/Presidents/Owners stress and do whatever they can to fill the vacancy as fast as possible.  When taking this approach, you may be doing your company more harm in the long run.  Use a senior executive’s departure as an opportunity.


In traditional departures, you would discuss the issue with your partners; CPA Firm, Banker, Attorney, and Brokers/Consultants.  However, do they really understand what it will take for this role to make a real impact? Do they understand the short- and long-term needs, the position description and the success profile of the role and how it fits into the business?  While trying to be helpful, sometimes they are just thinking about keeping or obtaining your business and will share resumes or names without a clear understanding of your needs, short-term and long-term.  There probably was no real evaluation or vetting of candidates before they sent you the resume.


  • When is the person leaving? Do you have a stopgap measure? How will you get by in the interim?
  • Cost of turnover.
  • Understanding the role and your needs.
  • Major strategies for the business and how their role can help.

Sit down with the departing executive and get to the core reasons they are leaving (this may need to be conducted by a 3rd party).

  • If it is a retirement make sure you have a good transition plan.
  • If the executive is leaving for another opportunity or voluntarily, do you have a transition plan for them to be able to answer questions?

Where does the company see themselves in 5 years? Do you have a strategic plan? 
Ask the following:

  • What did you like about your last executive?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • What do you want your new executive to keep doing?
  • What do you want them to start doing?
  • What do you want them to stop doing?

Do you have the right organization structure?
Do you have the right compensation plans to attract, retain and motivate top talent?

  • Base salary
  • Annual bonus
  • Long-Term Incentives
  • Benefits
  • Other perks


  • Develop a well-defined position specification and job description.
  • Interview several staff members in the organization and solicit their feedback.
  • Use the information from your assessment.
  • Develop a search/recruiting strategy.
  • How will you develop a qualified candidate pool?
  • If it is right for you, engage a 3rd party recruiter.  Many times recruiters can help you through a lot of this evaluation.
  • Contact and activate your network.
  • Develop an interview assessment process for both you and the candidate.
  • Who will be on the interview team?
  • How will you make your decision?
  • Will you be using any leadership assessment tools?
  • How will you validate the candidates? Go beyond references checks.
  • Build a road map for success that begins on Day 1. Develop a robust onboarding plan so the new hire has a smooth transition into your organization in a structured and efficient manner.


  • Once you have a hire and the new executive starts, the process is not over.
  • Implement a thorough onboarding plan.
  • Schedule bi-weekly check-ins.
  • Develop a plan to address training or areas of development.
  • Have the new hire do a SWAT analysis 4-6 months into their employment.
  • Conduct a formal 4-6 month follow-up meeting.

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