When you think of succession planning, the old cliche often comes to mind: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
And, in this ever-changing economic climate, with competition for talent fiercer than ever before, every organisation needs a measurable process for identifying future leaders and preparing them for their next step on the ladder.
Contingency and a Plan C
Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with establishing contingency plans; they’re not sure who can step into the role if key personnel move on or fall ill.
In this article, I’ll explain why it’s important to make sure you’re prepared with a ‘Plan B’ and a ‘Plan C’ so your business isn’t left without its cornerstone staff members.
With competition for talent fiercer than ever before, every organisation needs a measurable process for identifying future leaders
First, what is a succession plan?
Succession planning is crucial if you want to ensure a smooth transition of leadership in the future.
It involves identifying and developing employees who have the potential to take on leadership roles, and providing them with the necessary training and support to prepare them for those positions.
Make sure you’re prepared with a ‘Plan B’ and a ‘Plan C’ so your business isn’t left without its cornerstone staff members
A worthy investment
Succession planning is not just about finding a replacement for a current leader; it is about creating a pipeline of capable and confident individuals who can step up to the plate when the time comes.
By investing in succession planning, businesses can ensure continuity of leadership, maintain institutional knowledge, and mitigate the risks associated with sudden departures of key personnel.
So, next time someone asks you why you need to invest time and effort to have a succession plan in place, you’ll know exactly what to say.
Now, let’s look at how to create one.
Succession planning is crucial if you want to ensure a smooth transition of leadership in the future
1. Identify your key roles
The first step in creating a succession plan is to identify the key roles that your organisation cannot function without.
These could be leadership positions, technical positions, or any role that is vital to the smooth functioning of the company.
Once you have identified these roles, start mapping out the skills and qualifications needed to fill each one successfully.
These should include technical, leadership, communication and problem-solving skills.
The first step … is to identify the key roles that your organisation cannot function without
2. Identify potential candidates
Once you have identified the key roles and skills required for those roles, you need to look at potential candidates.
It’s important to have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from.
Therefore, as well as considering the individuals within your organisation who show promise and have demonstrated their commitment to growing in their current roles, it’s wise to identify external candidates who could also fit the bill.
As part of the process, involve people who are knowledgeable in your business, such as department heads, who can provide insights into potential candidates.
It’s important to have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from
3. Develop candidates
After you have identified potential candidates, the next step is to develop them.
This could involve providing training, mentoring, shadowing, coaching or any other form of development that will help them to acquire the skills and qualifications required for the key roles.
By taking this approach, you can ensure that your succession plan is robust and effective.
Open communication with potential successors is important to ensure they are motivated and engaged
Having a career development plan is positive for any employee, but knowing you’re on a fast track to a more senior role is even better.
Open communication with potential successors is important to ensure they are motivated and engaged.
Make sure you communicate what you expect from them, how their development plan will help them achieve their goals, and how the succession plan fits into the big picture of the organisation.
While promotion isn’t guaranteed, knowing what steps to take will help them stay on the right path.
You must regularly monitor employee performance to ensure that they are meeting the identified criteria for key roles
5. Monitor progress
Succession planning is not a one-time activity; it requires continuous monitoring and evaluation.
Therefore, you must regularly monitor employee performance to ensure that they are meeting the identified criteria for key roles.
You can do this through periodic reviews, feedback sessions, and individual development plans.
You also need to be aware of any changes in the business landscape that may require another change to the succession plan.
While promotion isn’t guaranteed, knowing what steps to take will help them stay on the right path
Why Plan B and C are important
Even if you carefully execute the above steps, sometimes things don’t turn out as expected.
That’s why you need a Plan B and Plan C.
Creating alternative plans provides you with more options when faced with unexpected circumstances, such as a nominated successor choosing to leave the organisation or not satisfying performance expectations.
Creating alternative plans provides you with more options when faced with unexpected circumstances
Plans for peace of mind
Plan B could involve a contingency successor or someone temporarily fulfilling the role until a permanent successor is identified.
Plan C could entail identifying individuals outside your organisation, such as consultants or interim executives, to fill the position temporarily.
Another benefit of having alternative plans is peace of mind.
Instead of scrambling to find a replacement when a critical employee leaves, you can relax and focus on executing the plan you’ve prepared.
Succession planning is an ongoing process that requires dedication and commitment
Commitment to the cause
Succession planning is an ongoing process that requires dedication and commitment.
But if you do it right, you will ensure continuity of leadership in the future and guarantee a smooth transition when the time comes.
If you enjoyed this, read: How to cultivate diverse leadership in succession planning