I had an interesting conversation the other day with a client - we were discussing her company's strategic plan and the next step: the succession plan - I was outlining for her the basic steps to identifying the responsibilities of key positions when she asked a great question: "Just what is a 'key' position?"
Her question honestly stunned me for a moment because of it's simplicity and it's importance. If we as business owners don't know which positions in our company are "key", how can we ensure we've got those positions properly staffed, trained, and supported now and into the future?
If we don't have our key positions solidly staffed and operating effectively, what might we anticipate about the rest of our company's positions?
From most consultants' and businesses' perspectives, key positions are typically those positions that sit in the "C-Suite": i.e., Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), and chief of anything else, as well as other members of the executive and senior management teams.
From my perspective, a key position is any position within an organization that has no double. Basically any position within your company that you only have "1" of - so this could be your CEO, your Director of Sales, your Office Manager, your Maintenance Supervisor, and your Mechanic Level 3.
My definition of key positions obviously creates more "key positions" but for any organization to do effective organizational and employee planning, you need to take into account all of those situations where one person currently holds all the knowledge of his or her position.
If he or she leaves your company, you do not want your organization held hostage because no one else knows how to do that job -- be it the CEO's or the Maintenance Supervisor's.
Given this, it's crucial that all key positions be reviewed to ensure employees in key positions are:
- Documenting critical procedures (i.e., procedures that only this position handles or knows how to do).
- Identifying and training a handful of other employees on the critical procedures to ensure others know how to do or at least know how to access the information to do these critical procedures.
- Identifying and developing others who could step up or step into their position if needed and if/when promotions occur.
So, who is "key" to your company? It's obviously not just the people in the fancy offices. It's anyone who knows the key to running an area of your business.Copyright 2006 - Liz Weber, CMC - Weber Business Services, LLC. WBS is a team of Strategic Planning and Leadership Development Consultants, Trainers, and Speakers. Liz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717)597-8890. Additional FREE articles can be found at www.wbsllc.com/leadership.shtml Liz can be reached at mailto:email@example.com