Why do we need succession planning?
In most cases we need succession planning to ensure that the business can continue to function optimally with the right people, with the right skills and at the right time.
Succession Planning can be a bit of an art – if it is carried out effectively. Ideally, it should be a business focused, fair, open and transparent process. If not, it will most likely cause distrust and suspicion amongst your employees.
Succession Planning vs Contingency Plan
The practice of identifying an employee to replace someone who is leaving or is ready for retirement, is not succession planning. This is a contingency plan. The difference between contingency plans and succession planning is that succession planning is about helping people develop and be in the right place at the right time for existing roles, or developing roles. Good succession planning should be about bringing in a range of talent, either in or outside of the organisation, and it should be fair and open.
The start of a Succession Plan
Before you begin succession planning, you need to have an ethos. Now that ethos will differ depending upon the business you are in. If you are in a corporation or a public sector organisation, you might want to have a policy of growing your talent within. If you are a business on the move, you might want to look at bringing in new talent with new and evolving skills. Or you might have a combination of these approaches.
Top Tips to successfully implement a Succession Plan:
1. Be clear about why you want to introduce succession planning.
• Is it to recruit new and evolving talent?
• Is it to develop new leaders/managers/specialists for the future?
2. Be open about why you want to introduce succession planning with your current workforce.
3. Be clear with your current employees about your rationale and let them see the possibilities for them. If there aren’t possibilities for them, then be clear about that, but let them know why.
4. Be clear about the difference between contingency planning and succession planning.
5. If you have a list in a drawer with names, and the people who are named don’t know they are on there, then you might want to think about how helpful or not this is.
6. If you have a list of names, and it is to replace specialist jobs and no-one but the named persons know they are on the list, then again you might want to think about your strategy.
7. Be clear about the criteria you are going to apply to any succession planning exercise and communicate it widely.
8. Be structured. Make sure that you and everyone knows how it is going to work and what they can expect. Align other employee lifecycle events with the succession plan where needed.
9. Be open to attracting talent from everywhere. There may be someone in your current workforce, who might not be displaying the characteristics for future job filling now, but with an open invitation, they might just go for it.
10. If you decide the future is through a graduate scheme, try to make it accessible for existing workers, or have a route through for existing workers. There is nothing more annoying than being great and going the extra mile, doing the duties of higher level jobs and being told that you can’t compete because you have to have a degree.
11. If you want to source talent from within, then tie your succession planning to your appraisal/feedback scheme. It is the easiest way to have those conversations and help people work in a way that helps them aim for different roles.
12. If employees think they can progress in their own company, then they can be more likely to stay. Chart out career pathways for your staff so that they can plan for the future.
13. If your succession plan includes attracting talent from outside the organisation, make sure you have tapped the potential within first.