Steps to Successful Succession Planning

Effective succession planning has advantages for your staff members by giving them a self-esteem boost and an answer to the question of what’s next for them. 

For managers and employers, it’s a proactive measure that gives them an alignment of talent development with the company’s future leadership needs.

Succession planning is a strategy for identifying and developing future leaders at your company at all levels. 

Succession plans are used to address the inevitable changes that occur when employees resign, retire, are fired, get sick or die. They make sure the business is prepared for all contingencies by identifying and training high-potential workers for advancement into key roles.

This is a critical but often overlooked process for companies, and something they all need to continue to run smoothly. It’s also a manageable event, not a major organizational crisis. The end result is a well-oiled machine with a multitude of favorable outcomes, not least of which is staff retention.

Here are seven suggestions to kick-start your succession planning, whether you have a small, family-owned business or a multinational corporation:

Be proactive with succession planning.

It can take time to find and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role. As such, don’t dawdle with this part of your plan. Even if you don’t think you’ll need a replacement in the near future, prepping someone to assume an important role creates an invaluable safety net.

Keep an open mind.

While the obvious successor may be the second in command, don’t disregard other promising employees. Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current titles.

Make the vision known.

Include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the organization and its objectives. Consider sharing your succession planning with human resources and your board of directors.

Offer regular feedback to protégés. 

When someone uses well-honed presentation skills or outperforms on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens. Diligently chronicling topics like strong work and achievement will also come in handy during performance reviews.

Train peak performers.

As you identify your top performers, offer mentoring relationships, job shadowing and training, which are true articles of value to help them develop new skills and refine existing ones. Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen but also strong interpersonal skills, including standout verbal and written communication abilities, as well as tact and diplomacy.

Do a trial run.

A vacation is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume some responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.

Use your plan to develop a hiring strategy.

Once you’ve identified internal employees as successors for key roles in your organization, take note of any talent gaps. In this way, the succession planning process can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.

Last but not least, a succession plan is an investment in your company’s future.

If you are making plans to move up the ranks in the C-suite, bear in mind you’ll need a successor, too, who’s enthusiastic about being a boss. By knowing the importance of identifying potential future leaders and developing a succession plan, you help employees feel valued for their contributions and eager to realize their potential within the company.

Source: Robert Half