When a company finds itself in search of new leadership, the results of that search could make or break the business. The choices your company’s corporate transition team make leading up to and in response to an executive’s resignation will affect your corporate outlook for years to come. Find out what your transition team can do now to prepare for the change.

Transition Team, Assemble!

Leadership transitions are inevitable. In the current market, lateral moves are increasingly seen as a tool for career advancement. Your company may face an unexpected vacancy due to a health emergency or termination. Eventually even the most loyal and committed employee will retire. That is why succession planning should be a part of every company’s strategic development plan, no matter what stage of life your executives are in.

Assembling a corporate transition team is a key part of that strategic plan. Your transition team should include your corporate board of directors and all senior leaders, especially those who will report directly to the new executive. You may also want to retain a business consultant to help steer your team and facilitate discussions around executive recruitment.

Define Company Values and Corporate Culture

Once your transition team is assembled, they need to know the goal they are shooting for. This comes from careful introspection into where the company is now, and where it is going. While a corporate strategic plan looks at what the company wants to do, your transition team should consider who can make those goals happen.

This can include both hard and soft skills. Often interpersonal skills and alignment with company ideals can be essential to a smooth transition. While it may be important that your incoming leader has the right credentials, their ability to use effective leadership management techniques and work with your team may be just as important as where they got their degree.

Budget for Recruitment Expenses

Any transition will have direct expenses connected to it. Transition planning should be a line item on the budget. When a business leader leaves, your company needs to be prepared to cover:

  • Creation and distribution of job descriptions
  • Advertising for the new position
  • Outsourced recruitment services
  • Relocation and signing bonuses
  • Referral awards to current employees
  • Overhead for HR professionals and transition team members
  • Possible increased compensation for the incoming leader
  • Training and onboarding expenses

Your business consultant can help you properly estimate these costs and decide whether to handle the tasks in-house or bring in outside consultants.

Assess Your Talent Pipeline

Your next C-suite executive may already be on the payroll. All too often, companies facing an unexpected leadership transition focus on bringing in new talent from the outside and ignore the rising stars within the company. Aspiring corporate leaders can sometimes feel there is no room for advancement within their company.

Before posting your executive job description, you should assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing staff. Could they be trained to step into the role? How could the transition team facilitate their growth through coaching or professional development? At the same time, you should not assume that promotion is the best option. Often a new hire can bring a fresh perspective or skills that will supplement your existing team and help round out your corporate leadership team. Any executive search should include internal and external candidates, so your transition team has the broadest possible pool to choose from.

Provide Onboarding Support to Ensure Transition Success

Making a high-level transition at work is one of the most stressful challenges in life. When your new business leader comes on board, they will face a steep learning curve and a staff who may see them as an outsider. Your transition team should take charge of the onboarding process. This may include mentorship, a robust orientation program, or working one-on-one with an executive coach who can help them step into and define their role within the company. When that executive coach has been part of the transition team from the beginning, he can bring insight into the company’s goals and expectation and how the new hire can rise to meet them.


David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping transition teams through business transitions. Through succession planning and executive coaching, David helps small and medium-sized businesses identify and onboard successful executives. Contact us to meet with David to begin your leadership transition plan today.