Succession Planning – Who’s Taking Your Place?

Every department has those few employees who really want to promote and move forward in an organization. If a business doesn’t recognize this drive in its employees, then top talent will eventually leave. That’s why leaders need to make succession planning a priority on a regular basis and not just when a leader leaves an organization.

Leaders need to be fully committed to developing their team members and looking for those employees who want to become and do more. Once a leader decides to move on, it’s critical he or she has molded at least one if not two employees to take that position. Leaders should want to set-up and prepare their employees, so the successor can be successful, but how?

I think a leader needs to plan, share and promote to create a strong succession plan.

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Plan:  Succession planning is not something that happens over night. Leaders really need to get to know their teams in order to figure out who can rightfully and willingly take on more responsibility. They also need to tell that person their plan, in order to figure out if this person is ready for a promotion and wants to take the time to learn the new position and duties. Finally, there should be a written plan that flags high potential employees that will be able to operate a company when managers begin to leave or retire. Here is a well-designed outline of requirements.

Share:  In order for succession planning to work, leaders have to be willing to share as much information as possible with their high performing employee. This takes a lot of trust, dedication and communication, but the more an employee gets to see into the world of a leader, the more prepared they’ll be to promote one day. Also, cross training allows the potential successor the opportunity to have a more diverse understanding of a business and may increase their level of success in a leadership role.

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Promote:  Even if a leader isn’t planning on leaving their position, talented employees must be given the opportunity to grow and promote. If a person is on the succession planning list and has learned an immense amount about the business, then they need to be considered for the next available position. Of course, there are many talented people outside of an organization that can bring value, but if an employee is ready and has committed their time, then they deserve it or they may not be on the team much longer.

Businesses can’t wait until a leader leaves to think about filling a position. While the investment in succession plan may take time, filling the position with a trusted, well-informed employee will take away a great deal of stress and save a lot of time and money.  Being committed to a plan filled with development and communication will make the transition easier and will ensure the best talent doesn’t walk out the door.

Does your company have a succession plan? Let me know how it works in the comment section below.

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