Perspective on Succession Planning

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Every organisation – regardless of what size and stage the business is at – will have employees who leave the company, move departments, or eventually take on new roles. To ensure your company’s future is successful, you need to build a good plan around who can fill critical positions. When implemented correctly, a succession plan can guarantee that when an expert leaves, no knowledge is lost. It is vital that when change happens, everything continues to function.

Potential Successors

Before identifying potential successors, decision-makers should think about what goals they are looking to achieve as a company in the next 5-10 years. With this vision in mind, recruit people who can align with the company’s growth goals. Once organisations have determined which roles are critical, they can identify potential successors for each role. To build a strong succession plan, recruit superior people. During the recruitment process, outline criteria for crucial skills, must-have knowledge, and relevant experience. This will allow you to carefully assess each candidates’ background, experience, cultural fit, and career plans.

Another common approach is for companies to develop future leaders from within. Developing talent internally is the most cost-effective option. There are many benefits to hiring and promoting from within. Many of these individuals will have already built strong relationships with other employees and their external networks and have advanced knowledge of the industry and the company itself. It is also likely that they have worked closely with or have been mentored by the person who is departing.

Employee Development

To improve the skills of current teams, employers can provide ongoing training opportunities. Ongoing training takes many different forms. It can occur through on-the-job experience, executive coaching, mentoring, or continued education/qualifications. Leadership training programmes are essential for employee development, talent management, and staff retention. The end goal is to equip existing employees with the skills to excel in critical roles and create a workforce that will help your company grow.

Your employee development strategy will help to identify employees with the greatest potential. Knowing which employees are emerging leaders can help you properly prepare them to fill key positions. When promoting internally and quickly filling a role, there is minimal disruption to the organisation. Succession planning is an open-ended process. It should be fluid and constantly reviewed and adjusted to accommodate the inevitable – change.

Strategic Business Planning 

Organisations often only think passively about succession plans; however, there are countless reasons why it should be an operational priority. Business leaders and human resources professionals often put succession plans on the back burner – however, the business case for both small- and large-scale organisations is strong. Not only will it ensure the stability of business operations in the long term, but it will also help provide meaningful opportunities for development to high potential employees.

By considering your organisation’s future makeup, key stakeholders also have an opportunity to develop a diverse workforce. One of the most important reasons for engaging in succession planning is that it ensures no institutional knowledge is lost when an employee departs. If there is a process for tacit knowledge that can only be gained through experience to be passed down, learning curves for those entering new roles can be drastically reduced. An agile process will consider which skill sets and functions are necessary to grow your organisation for the future.


Director, Human Resources and Reward

Cameron Leather