Imagine having the responsibility that Governor Gavin Newsom had to select someone to serve in the United States Senate. Some might find the task daunting while others may see it as a golden opportunity. However, every supervisor who makes a hiring decision has a similar weight and obligation when filling their positions.

Senator Feinstein had declared in February that she would not be running again, and three prominent candidates were already spending millions hoping to be elected to that vacated seat next year. But with her passing and a flourish of Newsom’s pen, Laphonza Butler was instantly seated to fill Senator Feinstein’s term.

Newsom was able to make a decision within days because he had been thinking about this possibility due to Feinstein’s age. There were some on his short list that declined to be considered. He ruled out anyone who was already seeking the seat. He focused on Black women to fulfill a promise, narrowing his list even further. When the time came for him to act, he wasn’t starting from a blank page.

Think about what you are doing in preparation for a potential key vacancy. Have you crafted a list of attributes that you could pull out and quickly deploy (dot #684)? Do you maintain a network that could give you either a list of candidates or at least potential referrals? Have you reviewed and updated job descriptions recently, especially for the positions that would cause significant hardship if open for an extended period?

Don’t wait for an unfortunate death, illness, or departure to begin a thought process around replacing critical positions. No one can anticipate the future, but a strong supervisor should prepare for contingencies in crucial roles.

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