Succession planning is paramount for businesses of all sizes. Whether you are a small not for profit, a family business with just a handful of employees, a medium sized local-based company or a global corporation, effective succession planning can pave the way for your business’s future.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning involves identifying and preparing high-potential employees to fill critical positions when they become vacant. However, it is not just about filling roles at the top – succession planning should focus on all levels of your organisation.

A well-designed succession planning framework is an integral part of the talent management process. It provides a clear process to identify your key roles and the people with the right skills to fill those roles in a specific period of time. The process is equally important for organisations wanting to prepare for future progression.

Succession planning requires an understanding of the organisation’s long-term goals and objectives and identifying employee career development needs. Having a well-calibrated succession planning strategy will help your business prepare for all sorts of situations triggered by a sudden or potentially disorienting staff departure.

Create your talent pool

Talent pools are groups of high-performing and high-potential employees that require nurturing in order to assume greater responsibility within an organisation.

High-performing employees are typically individuals who display high engagement levels, embrace the culture and organisational values, and perform at an exemplary level.

High-potential employees are those who have demonstrated the competencies, knowledge and qualities needed to advance well beyond their existing role within the organisation. 

Kickstart a sound talent pool within your business by following these steps …

  1. Identify the critical roles for long-term success.

Traditionally, business-critical roles are the most senior positions within organisations, preparing and supporting incumbents for when they leave or retire. The business-critical roles of today are often broad and deep within a business – from key customer-facing roles to warehousing staff or drivers keeping stock flowing and supply chains open, even in the most damaging lockdowns and heavily restricted business environments.

  1. Pinpoint the competencies required for success.

Drill down on all the technical skills required to successfully carry out critical roles. For more senior roles, strong communication skills, empathy and diplomacy are some of the core competencies that businesses look for in emotionally intelligent leaders.

  1. Review talent across the organisation.

While the obvious successor to a role may be the person immediately next in line on your organisational chart, don’t discount other high-potential employees. Look across the organisation to others who display the necessary skills, strengths and qualifications, regardless of their level of seniority.

  1. Ask people what they want.

Don’t assume you know the career goals of the people in your team. Ask individuals about their aspirations and interests before making decisions.

  1. Conduct a gap analysis.
    Determine areas where learning and development is required. Incorporate recent annual performance appraisals with other career and leadership building initiatives, such as coaching, accreditations, upskilling or on-the-job learning opportunities.

Identify your successor

When creating a succession planning strategy, remember to include your own role. Ask yourself: Who might be able to step up one day? And then ask: What can I do now to help that person grow and prepare for any future transition?

Keep it simple

Succession planning is a valuable tool to safeguard the future of your business, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Regular monitoring of your workforce for performance and potential and creating a robust leadership program that includes mentoring and career development opportunities will set your business on the path to future success.

Need help creating your succession planning framework? Get in touch.