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Succession Planning Means Success

By: Barry R. Cesafsky, FACHE

As much as we would like to, no one can truly predict the future; however, we can prepare for it.  In our personal lives, we can do financial planning, we can prepare our will, and we can have routine health check-ups.

Fortunately, in our healthcare organizations, we can do more to prepare for the future.  We can conduct succession planning, which is often defined as a carefully planned process of orderly transferring leadership within an organization by recruiting and preparing executives to assume future key leadership roles. This means identifying and developing new leaders in your workforce to replace key people when they depart the organization.

The practice of succession planning has taken on more importance as the landscape of healthcare has changed.  Healthcare organizations are leaner today as many organizations eliminated middle manager positions during restructuring. Sometimes ready successors are not available.

Transition plans should be viewed as a long-term investment in the future health of the organization.  While human resources should play a facilitating role in the transition process, ultimately succession planning is the responsibility of the Trustees and the incumbent CEO.

An effective succession plan should include the following elements:

  • Openness and Transparency
  • Involvement of both the Board and the current CEO
  • Recognition of the organization’s culture and core values
  • Should be closely linked to the Strategic Plan
  • Analysis and identification of key leadership skills and competencies needed
  • Definition of search process (internal and external)
  • Targeting of ideal potential candidates (internal and external)
  • Acknowledgment of the current CEO’s preferred successor
  • Motivation of future candidates/fostering a spirit of loyalty to the organization
  • Institution of a mentoring program for candidates
  • Implementation of benchmarks to measure progress
  • Development of an emergency Disaster Plan
  • Development of a plan to communicate with the staff about projected changes

Succession planning is the best way to ensure the ongoing success of any hospital or healthcare system. By implementing a well-designed, long-term plan, an organization can effectively weather the unexpected as well as execute seamless transitions from one generation of leaders to the next.

HeathSearch Partners is most eager to assist you in developing your Succession Plan or finding the best candidate to fill your next leadership position.

Barry Cesafsky is the Vice Chair of HealthSearch Partners. Having been in the executive search field for 30 years, Barry brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to each executive search assignment. He can be reached at or by calling (630) 479-6228.

HealthSearch Partners is most eager to assist you in finding the best candidate to fill your next leadership position. With a foundation of more than 100 years’ combined experience, HealthSearch principals are adept at matching leaders with clients. We focus on high caliber individuals whose skill-set and track record demonstrate performance in all areas of importance to healthcare organizations: high quality care, customer satisfaction, operational improvement and financial success.

We urge you to visit our website: and contact Barry or any of the principals to assist you in your next search needs.

O. 833-477-3932 Ext. 703
M. 630-479-6228