Succession planning is good for the health of your organization. It ensures you are prepared to fill vital roles in your organization should people leave unexpectedly or otherwise, and it engages and helps retain your best employees.
Succession planning should be done openly and honestly. Keep channels of communication open to those involved so they understand the process and why it’s important to them and the organization. Use it as an incentive to engage your best employees and earn their loyalty.
During a succession audit you’ll need to take stock of a few different things. Look at the management positions you have, the vital roles in your organization that need to be filled for you to function successfully, how many of those positions have successor already inside the organization? For each role, consider which employees are ready to step into that spot if the current person left and which would be ready with some training or mentorship.
This isn’t just a brainstorming activity; put it in writing.
This audit shouldn’t be done in a vacuum; collaborate with your leadership team, the people in those vital roles who would need to be replaced. Those employees currently in the roles will have a good perspective on what will be necessary to replace them as well as who in their departments shows leadership potential. Collaboration with the team will also lead to a stronger understanding of what is needed, who is needed and how to carry out the succession plan through career development.
The best way for your employees to find out you value them and want to see them grow with your organization is to tell them. Make it clear that they have a place to grow and challenge them along the way while training them for their move. Send them to leadership programs, assign them mentors, allow them to job shadow, expose them to others who can help or coach them, give them opportunities to let you know what they want to learn.
Knowing you have an active and healthy succession plan will motivate all your employees who want to be a part of it. This will resonate especially well with Millennials. Communicating your plans to give them increased responsibility will make them feel appreciated. Programs to help them grow will keep them engaged, and communicating openly with Gen Y shows them that you practice transparency, something they value.
Not all vacancies can be filled with internal candidates. It’s important to bring in new employees outside of your organization who have different ideas and a new perspective. Know who you can trust to help you recruit new talent before the need arises. Use social media sites like LinkedIn to keep track of prospective employees.
Let’s face it, things change. Your business evolves and your organization’s needs shift. It’s important to make sure your succession plan evolves and shifts with your organization and the right employees are receiving the proper development. Regular review will give you an opportunity to make sure your plan is realistic and working. How often you review the plan depends on how quickly things change, but at least twice a year is a good goal.
Planning ahead and giving your future leaders the training they need now will strengthen your organization in the future, not only because you’ll have the best employees, but also because you’ve developed a relevant strategy to keep pushing your company forward with strong leaders.
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