The business world is full of uncertainty with risks involved at every turn. When a company is preoccupied with the day-to-day struggles, it can be difficult to take a step back to assess the direction of the organization. After the many years it took to build the company, not properly planning for the future could derail its momentum. Having a strategic, long-term approach to succession planning can mitigate risks and solve problems down the road. After all, the best defense is a good offense!
There is more to succession planning than deciding who will be next to sit on the throne. Companies use succession planning as a way to ensure employees are recruited and developed to fill each key role within the organization. You’re planning for longevity! By starting the process now, you will have a say in the trajectory of the company moving forward. Looking at the current organization structure and assets, you will have more control of the process and outcome rather than leaving it up to others to decide the future of the company. Think of the planning process as the general outlining that comes before development and action.
Here are five things to consider when you start succession planning:
1. Align future goals and values. Be realistic with expectations and goals. It’s important as the company to grows, to maintain the overall mission and values of the organization in order to preserve the company culture. Additionally, if there are areas where this can be improved, work with your HR team to find ways to strengthen your team. For example, do you want to improve employee commitment and retention? Are you trying to keep company costs down?
2. Assess current talent and structures. Who are your all-stars and where are there gaps? Identify those who have the potential to assume a leadership role and who will take on more responsibility. Another thing to consider is the senior employees who may be getting ready to retire soon, leaving the organization with a talent void they need to fill. It might be beneficial to work with a recruiting partner who can guide you through this strategic assessment process — they can point out if you should modify roles on a team and/or if it would be beneficial to look externally for talent.
3. Establish mentorship and development planning. One of the main factors to forming an effective succession plan is developing the people who will eventually take the reins. Provide the necessary tools and experiences to make sure those individuals are ready and confident when they take on their new role. Establishing a mentorship program is a great way to transfer knowledge to younger associates, especially the ones who show potential leadership qualities.
4. Create a succession timeline and keep lines of communication open. Lack of communication with your key stakeholders is the easiest, and fastest, way to breed confusion and distrust. Depending on the size of your company, you could assign a point person for succession management who would make sure the proper steps are being taken. Many times, this task is taken on by human resources as they evaluate talent performance.
5. Work with professional advisors who can help guide the process. Having impartial 3rd parties to assist, like business consultants or a recruiting agency, can be a huge asset when coming up with the initial plan and facilitating next steps. Whether there are too many emotion-based decisions or if this is an organization’s first time attempting a succession plan, advisors are familiar with the course of action needed and can create a plan specific to your company’s needs.
Through this process, you recruit superior employees, develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and prepare them for advancement. Actively pursuing succession planning ensures employees are constantly engaged. As your company grows and changes, the succession planning aims to secure there are employees on hand ready and waiting to fill new roles.