Effective hiring policies are a common denominator in successful companies. However, many organizations fail to sustain an active level of evaluation and expectations of employees beyond annual reviews. Succession planning is all too often a missing element.
At its core, succession planning is preparation for the future, including transitioning leadership and, if appropriate, ownership.
Let’s run through the promise of actively planning for the future as well as the perils of not.
Be prepared for internal and external change
Succession planning builds a framework that encourages assessment, rewards vision, and organizes the hierarchy of the future. It is impossible to change the plan if you don’t have one.
There are external factors that can and will impact your company and workforce. Changes in government leadership, national disasters, pandemics, the list goes on.
What happens if you lose talent? For example, one of your most valuable employees could take a job with a competitor.
Employee development and defining upward career paths will avert damaging gaps in the workforce.
Invest in knowing who and what you have
Planning for the future begins with actively developing talent.
The employees you’ve hired can be the next chapter of leadership if you conduct internal talent searches and support strategic talent review conversations.
Nurture the leadership strength you identify.
If you haven’t had discussions about the potential for upward growth or participation in leadership, employees may feel they don’t have an identity within the company.
Hiring an employee is not static, it’s a living contract that requires attention, assessment, and engagement.
Engaged employees will be invested in the company’s success. Retaining valuable employees needs to be a part of the plan.
As your succession planning establishes the needs of the organization, forecasting growth, and how existing employees can fill the need, future hire needs will take shape.
Deliberate succession planning involves communication and frequent feedback.
Tomorrow begins with today’s 6 steps: The absolute musts of succession planning
Leaders in human resources and people leadership know that succession planning is critical to organizational legacy; it’s the business version of planting trees, knowing that you’ll never sit under their shade.
Here are the six basic elements necessary to create a succession planning strategy:
- Take initiative: Draft a short and long term plan to guide you toward a solution to “What if…” Keep in mind that succession planning is not exclusively for big corporations, in fact it’s smaller businesses that rely heavily on the intellectual and creative value of a single leader that needs to be ready.
- Identify potential: Look within your organization to find talent that can participate in building the plan, as well as individuals who have the promise of graduating to leadership through training.
- Communicate: Let employees know that you see a place for them in the future and that you will be investing in their ascent. Draw in senior leadership to participate in working toward a deeper bench to protect the organization.
- Mentor: Create an internal system for connecting mentors and mentees to build strong relationships and begin leadership training.
- Evaluate: Practice with a dry run. Where are the weak spots? Can you train to fix or does it requiring hiring?
- Integrate HR: Aligning hiring and review practices with the current, emerging, and future needs based on the succession plan is critical to sustaining momentum.
People are the plan
As a human resources tool, succession planning drives a process of developing the necessary talent for greater organizational strength. It also reveals gaps where additional hiring is necessary. A Career Builder study revealed that nearly 60% of US managers say they never received any management training.
Companies can prepare employees to become the next generation of leadership.
The benefits of this approach to preparing for the future can lead to more confident employees and stoke a desire to achieve greater performance. Being able to see a role for themselves in the future keeps employees working toward it.
Creating competence and assessment measurements to stay connected to the talent strengths and deficits within the organization is well worth the focus. Understanding when and how things are getting off track allows you to reset and continue toward a stronger future.
Not everyone is cut out for leadership, which doesn’t mean that they aren’t an asset.
It means they cannot be the solution for certain equations in the plan. It helps to plan how best to use that person’s talents.
Improving organizational strength through training and mentoring also builds retention.
Using tools that exist to automatically pair mentors and mentees can eliminate delays and keep development activities on track. The mentoring relationships foster communication and transparency, leading to an enhanced culture of collaboration.
It’s essential to gauge the impact of succession plans and how they influence business outcomes. Checking in on morale, progress, and performance provides context.
It also positions leadership as having a vision that they are willing to involve employees in shaping.
It’s possible to build strategic succession processes that operate from the inside out, creating energy between the demands of the business, the ambition of employees, and the future success of a company.
All you need to do is commit to your future.