Do you know what the key positions are in your company? Do you know who the key employees are? What would you do if one of these people resigned? Succession Planning is becoming increasingly important as the Baby Boomers retire and it becomes more commonplace to switch jobs during your career leaving key roles vacant. According to Wikipedia, “Succession Planning is the process of identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key leadership positions in the company.” Effective, proactive succession planning builds your bench strength and will prepare your company for the loss of key employees and key positions. While it may seem like a lot of work up front for the “what ifs,” pay now or pay later… The cost of not being prepared is going to be even greater.
In order for Succession Planning to be successful, you’ll want to have senior leadership working with Human Resources. Managers and Senior Management should be held accountable for developing their people to take on new roles. The Succession Plan should also tie directly into the overall strategic mission, value and goals of the business. This will ensure that everyone is on board and will allow the plan to also become an investment plan for achieving short and long term objectives. As you develop your plan, think out of the box. Who are your rising stars? Maybe they’re in a different department, but could be trained to take on other leadership roles. Can you cross-train? What can you do to retain your key talent? For each key role and key employee, look at the education, experience, skills and competencies needed for the position that an employee is slated to grow into. How can you get an identified resource from point A to point B so that they are ready to fill those shoes when the time comes?
As you look to develop your plan, consider the following training and development opportunities:
- Job assignments (new projects/new opportunities)
- Formal training
- Opportunity for team leadership
- Coaching and mentoring
- Employee feedback & performance management
- Cross training or lateral moves
Your Succession Plan should be a living, breathing document. Review it periodically for effectiveness. Have the identified resources been successful in their new roles? Were they prepared? Is the plan effective in reducing the pain when a key employee leaves? What else can be done to further develop employees? Remember, while you may not see the benefits now, developing and implementing a Succession Plan will have pay-off later.
Have you had success or failures with Succession Planning? Tell us your story.