Most Tech Execs Don’t Have Backups

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Menlo Park, Calif. — Nov. 26

Technology executives may excel at quick recovery from network outages and guarding against security breaches, but the vast majority lack a backup plan should their own job need to be filled suddenly, a new Robert Half Technology survey reveals.

Seventy-nine percent of chief information officers polled said they haven’t identified a successor in the event they had to stop working unexpectedly.

The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, “Have you identified a successor in the event that you had to stop working unexpectedly?” Whereas 79 percent responded in the negative, only 20 percent said yes; the remainder responded that they didn’t know.

“Succession planning is critical for an organization’s long-term success, yet it’s a task that’s often overlooked,” said senior executive director of Robert Half Technology John Reed. “By taking proactive steps to identify and develop future leaders, a manager’s departure is a workable issue instead of an imminent crisis.”

Reed added that succession planning is beneficial for everyone involved. “Successors are given the opportunity to build their skills, often boosting loyalty to the company in the process, and executives are able to delegate more responsibilities,” he said.

Robert Half Technology offers the following five tips for finding and grooming a successor:

Start early. It can take time to identify and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role, so begin the process early. Even if you doubt you’ll need a replacement anytime soon, preparing someone to assume your duties creates a safety net in the event of an unforeseen absence or extended leave.

Keep an open mind. While the obvious successor may be your second in command, don’t overlook other promising employees. Look for candidates who best display the skills necessary to excel in the role — including both strong technical aptitude and leadership abilities — regardless of title.

Share the vision. Include prospective managers in strategy discussions to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the company and its goals.

Make it ongoing. Provide regular feedback to proteges so they can continue to progress and meet expectations.

Take a trial run. A vacation is a good time to have a potential successor assume some of your responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a greater role.

Source: Robert Half Technology

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