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Mapping Out Employee Succession

How can a company be proactive enough to avoid being caught off guard by employee departures?

That topic was front and center during a Wednesday session at FMI Future Connect, with Wakefern Food Corp. in the spotlight.

Dean Janeway, Wakefern's president and COO, said the company is succeeding with efforts to build deep bench strength across its organization.

The cooperative wholesaler’s program to identify and solidify employee succession plans has become a cornerstone of its efforts to sustain recent business successes.

“Any successful company that wants to perpetuate itself into the future needs a formalized succession process,” Janeway said during a conference session.

The 65-year-old Wakefern supports some 285 stores in the ShopRite system, so it’s crucial that employees are in place to fill openings that will arise from retirements in the coming years.

Wakefern conducts deep assessments across its 26 divisions to create employee development plans and ensure that succession programs are in place for any employees that may retire in the near future.

One of the keys to developing talent is to give employees broad exposure across the organization.

“We force job rotations from division to division because the more exposure our people have, the broader the base we have,” he said.

He pointed to a few high-level retirements during the past four years.

“In all of these cases, their replacements were in place three months before they left,” he said. “We never skipped a beat.”