Succession Planning: What are you doing to maximize and hold onto your talent?

Most companies recognize that its biggest assets are its employees. What many companies don’t see, though, is that when coached correctly those same great people have the potential to grow into even bigger and better positions. Most people’s goals include being successful, meeting specific milestones and continuing to gain levels of responsibility in work. To take advantage of the raw talent in entry level positions, and keep hold of their biggest assets, companies are well served by capturing this natural urge to learn and grow by mapping out succession plans for employees early on.

As employees progress up the company ladder, one goal to have is to find and train your own replacement. A lot of people are afraid of this concept because of the fear of working yourself out of a job. Successful managers understand that good players make good teams and that good, high functioning teams allow the manager to take on new job challenges. In order for the manager to grow into a new position there has to be somebody to take over the work that she or he was doing. It is in a manager’s best interest to have employees ready and able to take over the work that they would like to leave behind and replace with higher level work. You don’t want to be passed up for promotion because there wasn’t anyone to replace you in your current role.

The first step in a good succession plan is to learn about the goals of your employees as well as their skills and talents, whether they are using them in their current position or not. Thinking about how the company’s needs fit together with the employees’ goals and skill set can be like a puzzle. Starting early is the key. This is also a good way to get to know your employees and make them feel valued so they can serve multiple purposes.

Through dialogue with the employee you can determine together what their interests are and in what direction they want to grow. Use the information you learn to first consider qualified internal candidates for openings in your company before going outside of the company looking for new hires. You can also use the information to inform reorganization of positions in order to use the talent you already have to its fullest extent. Creating a plan to grow an employee includes filling in any missing education or skill gaps. Knowing what is missing will help the employee get her or himself up to speed so when opportunities arise they understand whether or not they are qualified.

Allowing the employee to be part of the plan for growth will ensure their buy in and commitment to the extra work needed to get them to the level you need. In return, the company has a loyal employee who has ‘grown up’ through the ranks and understands the business in a very intimate way. The other employees see that the company invests in their staff, which will, in turn, create even more loyalty.

All around, having a succession plan program within your company is a very positive way to integrate your people into your business.

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