Like so many others, I am a bona fide news junkie, & all of us addicts have our favorite shows to watch [some people stick with a favorite channel but I like diverging points of view]. However, like many people I also have a favorite morning show for news which is Morning Joe featuring former Congressman Joe Scarborough [R-Fl] & Mika Brezinski. They regularly feature a different mix of journalists but one of their mainstay guests has been NBC's Norah O'Donnell who used to have a show of her own & is a guest on a lot of news panel shows. O'Donnell came up from the ranks of Washington-based journalists from the D.C.-centric online vehicle Roll Call, which covers Capital Hill & was mentored by some of the best veterans like the late Tim Russert & Chris Mathews. She earned her stripes building relationships & sources in all the branches of government; for ournalists, a wide swath of relevant sources are their "bread & butter." Given the fact that journalism when practiced at the highest level is still very much a man's game, O'Donnell was presumed to be "waiting in the wings" so to speak to fill the void left by Andrea Mitchell when she retires. However, while NBC hit the "snooze button," & let O'Donnell kind of hang on the vine, CBS swooped in, made her a great offer & capitalized on all of the great training she got at NBC's expense. Now it is being said that her defection is one of the biggest in the last 20 years! That's not only bad business and bad management but bad PR!
Succession Planning Is Essential
Do not let this happen in your company! Succession planning at all levels is an essential duty of any HR department when they are doing their staff & performance evaluations. Like any professional sports organization, not only do you need a strong "A team" but you need a strong bench. Life happens; people get sick, leave, retire, or unforeseen circumstances occur which require personnel changes & you have to be ready. NBC did the right thing in mentoring & grooming O'Donnell. Their big mistake was letting a now skilled & respected journalist with their company imprimatur slip through their fingers. The task seems simple enough:
- Assess your staff
- Identify the needs
- Promote or hire staff
- Mentor & groom them
- Keep them happy & challenged so you don't lose them
Remember, it costs far more to go out & get new talent or to begin the process anew than it does to keep the bench you have happy.