Successful Succession Planning

  • Involves employees at all levels of the organization. You never know where you will find a person with leadership qualities. Look further than your pool of managers when evaluating the talent in your company. The younger, entry-level employees are the most likely to move onto another job with more responsibility as they gain experience. They can do this at your company if the opportunities are there.
  • Increases loyalty and job satisfaction. By being transparent about future opportunities within the company, employees have a clear line of sight into the company’s goals and how they fit in. This inspires commitment to pursuing objectives that move the company forward and willingness to stay for the long-term.
  • Looks good to investors and potential buyers. Having a plan along with long-term, loyal employees in place shows you have what is required to stay competitive over the long-term and that you will remain a relevant player in the industry even as the economy and markets shift.
  • Is an ongoing two-way conversation with your employees. This can take place during scheduled performance evaluations or can be done separately. Because your employee may have skills and talents that do not relate to the job they were hired to perform, it is important to ask them to talk about other skills.
  • Strikes a balance between the talents of each individual employee and the goals of the company. It is not enough to share what the company wants for the future, you must also know what employees’ goals are as well.

Tips for Succession Planning

  • Think ahead. What skills and experience will your business need to be competitive 2, 3, 5 years from now?
  • Analyze your staffs’ current skills. Do their core talents fit in well with their current position or is the business better served re-engineering its resources? What skills could you build on within your team to ready your business for what lies ahead?
  • Maintain a spreadsheet or database of talents available to you. This will come in handy when you are preparing to hire for new positions, and especially when you do not have that expertise in house. For example, a small company may not require its own marketing department but may need somebody to coordinate the efforts of the firm it hires to do its marketing. You may consult the spreadsheet to see if you have a talented project manager who has good writing and organizational skills and an eye for design.
  • Cross train and mentor employees in order to develop the skills needed to advance the company’s identified goals. Cross training allows employees to learn about other areas of the company and gives both of you the opportunity to assess their potential in that area. Mentoring requires time and energy. A person best suited for a mentoring role is one who values developing a relationship as well as job skills.

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"My professional passion stems from a fascination with how the individual needs of employees, managers, and the business converge to produce an outcome. I’m driven by a desire to help leaders and employees find the balance between competing needs so they can work together to address the challenges they face."