Would you build a home without a floor plan? Start a road trip without a map or destination? Coach a team without any planned plays? No way! Then why would you run a company without a succession plan in place?
Succession planning is a key element that every business should have. Succession planning identifies job vacancies that can be expected to occur through retirement or promotion and the strategy for how internal candidates can fill these positions. What skills and development are needed for existing employees to be qualified for these positions? What gaps need to be filled through mentoring or training development?
Succession planning can also help management identify future leaders. When each employee is put on a pathway for each position, it becomes simple to see the large picture and know where the company’s gaps and opportunities are. There are several reasons companies have succession plans, but one of the top reason is the possibility of unplanned changes.
What if your manager or CEO suddenly was unable to fulfill their duties or passed away? Would your company be ready? Is there someone next in line who is somewhat familiar with the responsibilities? Is there a plan in place? Ask yourself and key members of your team, “What happens if you can’t turn up to work tomorrow?” This is a critical discussion that should happen especially with senior leaders.
Dedicate someone within HR or another manager to take the helm and make plans. Ensure each senior leader or manager has a succession plan within their team. Also task each leader of each department to plan pathways and succession plans for each employee on their team by answering questions like:
- Who will be their successor?
- What promotional paths are in place?
- What training needs to occur?
This will not only help you develop a plan for emergencies but also plan for growth while keeping training development in line with individual employee goals.
This plan will also help your employees to feel more confident and secure. If they know what lies ahead for their future career they will most likely be more motivated to hit goals and exceed expectations. It also boosts morale because, after all, who wants to be the marketing intern forever?
You should review these plans periodically which will help supervisors stay current on employee’s skills and achievements as well as keeping everyone in the loop of upcoming growth opportunities or places where improvements can happen. If you are a supervisor training a potential successor it’s important to break up the training over weeks, months, sometimes years. This shouldn’t be a day training.
A healthy work-life balance should also be part of this plan. It’s a great opportunity when key leaders can step away from the office, away from email for a few days or even weeks so that the office can maintain productivity and run smoothly. As a leader, you should be thinking about what other key members would you prefer to not see leave the office? These are team members that should have plans, who is covering them if for some reason they are gone? What protocols are in place?
Many companies incorporate training and development within their pathway or succession plan. These can range from actual hard or soft skill training to leadership development. Perhaps you have a mid-level employee who works under a director. They should be learning and acquire leadership skills and be given opportunities to lead teams so that if needed they feel comfortable taking the reigns.
Department heads and leaders can meet together often to bring up employees they feel have potential to be leaders. From there more milestones, training or opportunities can be added to that particular employee’s path so that they are given the chance to grow.
This is also a great time to look at your leaderboard. Are there any skill overlaps? Make note, this can be something that is planned for multiple people to share the responsibility until a better candidate can be moved into place. This can also help some leaders develop or hone skills that have potential but aren’t quite up to par yet.
Although most companies strive for internal hiring first keep a firm plan for developing an external pipeline if needed. This keeps your talent up to speed with the industry and ensures you are keeping touch with what’s going on in the market. It’s also a great way to keep touch with potential candidates who could be successful in your company culture and future positions.
Leaders are constantly thinking about their company’s growth and current employee makeup. From interns, to board members most founders or CEOs are thinking how they can better develop their employees, how to keep growth coming, how to keep their talent pool growing and getting better and better.
Creating pathways and plans for each position in a company and each employee is a great way to get a bird's eye view of your company. What employees are being overlooked for leadership roles, what new development tactics should be deployed, what challenges can teams take on. These are all questions that can be answered once pathways are established and tied to a succession plan.
Career progressions should be integrated into your succession plan and pathway for every role. What milestones, goals or skills are needed to get to the next step? Improve your growth and support employee’s career aspirations at the same time. This will keep your employees engaged and performing well. It will also help keep costs down by increasing your internal hiring practices.
There are many benefits to succession planning, these are just a few. If you’re ready to see your company soar, start creating your succession plan today! Get in touch with one of our specialists for your free consult today!