7 steps to refining your succession planning process

By Robert Half on 27 December 2017

A proper succession plan should be part of the long-term plan for any organisation, regardless the size of your business operation.

Creating a succession plan involves identifying and training high-potential employees for key management roles in the business. It’s a critical but often overlooked process.

Having a solid plan of succession in place means that any sudden departure of a leader can be managed effectively and efficiently — not a major organisational crisis. Here are seven succession planning best practices you can implement immediately:

1. Be proactive

It can take time to find and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role. As such, don’t dawdle. Even if you don’t think you’ll need a replacement in the near future, prepping someone to assume an important role creates an invaluable safety net.

2. Keep your options open

While the obvious successor may be the second in command, don’t disregard other promising employees. Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in the position regardless of their current title.

3. Make the vision known

Include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as to develop a broad vision of the organisational model and objectives.

4. Offer regular feedback to your team

When an employee nails a presentation or performs well on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens. Diligently chronicling strong work will also come in handy during annual reviews.

5. Provide training to peak performers

As you identify your top performers, offer staff training and mentoring to help them develop new skills and refine existing ones. Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen, but also must be well-versed in soft skills. This includes outstanding verbal and written communication skills, as well as tact and diplomacy.

6. Do a trial run

A vacation is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume more responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.

7. Leverage your succession planning model to develop a better hiring strategy

Once you’ve identified internal employees as successors for key roles in your organisation, take note of any talent gaps. In this way, a succession plan can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.

When was the last time you refined your succession planning process?

As you make your own plans to move up the ranks, bear in mind you’ll need a successor who’s enthusiastic about a leadership position. By developing and refining your succession planning process and identifying potential future leaders, you help employees feel valued for their contributions and eager to realise their potential within the company.

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