Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave a company for a variety of reasons. It increases the availability of experienced and capable employees who are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. You need to make sure that the business is prepared for all contingencies by identifying these employees. This is a critical step, and an often overlooked process, for companies to ensure they not only continue to run smoothly, but have many favorable outcomes, not least of which is staff retention. Here are some suggestions for implementing succession planning in your company.
Steps for Successful Succession Planning
Thinking into the future about what your company will look like after top leaders are gone can be a daunting task. But take a moment. What does it look like? Who is leading it? These are important things to think about and to address. Succession planning is something that your company should revisit annually to ensure that it is consistent with the progress of employees and is reflective of what the organization’s future actually is. Unfilled and unplanned vacancies cost companies 50% more in lost revenue than the salary for the vacated job itself, according to a 2013 Mercer study. Organizations should be developing replacements for anyone whose sudden departure could disrupt the business. It can be overwhelming, but here are some tips to help guide you in this process.
Determine your succession planning strategy. There are many ways you can go about succession planning. Every company is different, and the many sectors of each organization are different. What works for one company’s accounting department may not work for another’s. The best succession plan is one that fits your organization. It can also take time to find and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role, so don’t procrastinate in developing this strategy. Ultimately, any succession plan needs to focus on what you can do to proactively preserve the knowledge that drives you company’s productivity. Consider these questions when thinking about a strategy: Do you want a complete succession plan that includes all positions within the company, or just upper management and important leadership positions? Will this be incorporated into performance reviews? Does your company have weaknesses in certain areas or divisions that you need to keep in mind? What is your ultimate goal in creating this plan?
Start small. Find out what works. Follow that path. When developing this program, it can be overwhelming, but start small and create a proposal to show executives. This should include data that shows how the plan will work and how it will benefit the organization. Establishing a pilot program will allow you to learn from the weaknesses or failures of the plan, and alter the program before it is utilized in the whole organization. In addition, keep an open mind. It can be tempting to just prepare the second-in-command to take over, but don’t ignore other promising employees. Look for the people who display the best skills suited to leadership positions, regardless of their current title.
Make the vision known throughout the company. This developed plan should be visible to the whole company, measurable and shared. Define the goal of this program and the data that will be used in evaluations. Refresh the program data at least once a year, and share both progress and issues with leadership every quarter. In addition, include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as understand the broader goals and vision of the organization and its objectives.
Evaluate employees’ skills. Offer feedback. Identify “high-potential” employees. Abilities and characteristics that the company identifies as key success factors in roles across the organization should be kept in mind when evaluating employees. Assess employees for alignment to company-wide values. Offering regular feedback to all employees allows them to acknowledge their own progress. Through this feedback, identify “high-potential” employees. Keep track of the achievements of these top performers. This will also give you something to refer back to when evaluating promotions.
Create individualized development and training plans for these “high-performers.” As these people are identified, begin to create personalized development plans to ensure that they are prepared to the best possible extent for the position they are being “groomed” for. Offer mentoring relationships, job shadowing and training which will help them develop new skills, refine existing ones and share knowledge.
Workforce planning and training are important parts of a company’s success. The new workforce includes three generations: baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials. As retirement is closing in for baby boomers, many companies need to fill senior positions in organizations with developed talent. Because Generation X is so much smaller than the baby boomer generation, millennials are on the fast track to management positions. We at CoreAxis recognize that there are different challenges with each generation and their preferred training and development styles. We also understand that each company is different and solutions need to be customized. If you need assistance with developing your succession plan, visit https://coreaxis.com/talent-strategy/millennial-training-solutions/ to learn more about how we can help you!