More often than not, succession planning is a reactive activity undertaken when there is a transition of staff and/or leadership role changes within an organisation or business. Personally, with a background in leading and managing teams, I often found it difficult finding the time to reflect on my role and how I would go about implementing a succession plan for my team. This prompted me to attend a Leading Leaders course. This course equipped me with the know-how, knowledge and tools to identify potential leaders within my team and develop them accordingly. It also helped me recognise that effective organisations proactively identify, educate and mentor their talent for critical positions through established strategic succession planning processes.
Succession planning is critical. It identifies future leaders, and recognises and develops promising candidates for positions within the organisation via a methodical evaluation process and strategic preparation and coaching.
In my opinion, succession planning establishes leadership continuity, it maintains and develops intellectual capital, and encourages individual growth and improvement. Ultimately, without a well-developed succession plan, the impact on organisational continuity can be damaging. Although succession planning has always appeared to be aimed towards top executives or high-level management, this should not be the case. In order for a business to succeed, all levels within an organisation or business should have a strategic succession planning process in place. This allows recognition of entry-level staff who have the talent to be great supervisors, and supervisors who have the potential to be exceptional department heads, contributing strong potential future leaders to the workforce.
Below are some key steps to consider when looking to the future and planning for unexpected changes in staffing:
- Establish and implement a strategic succession plan/process, ensuring reviews and updates are regularly undertaken;
- Build professional development plans and strengthen the importance of development for all employees – encourage staff to take an interest in duties and tasks beyond their normal scope and role;
- Reassess recruitment activities to ensure alignment with succession plans and processes;
- Mentor and coach identified staff in the succession plan in line with their development needs as outlined in the plans, ensuring adequate time is provided to prepare the talent; and
- Always keep in mind that succession plans are a unique reflection of your organisation or business, and they will vary and differ from each other as do the organisations and businesses for which they are developed.
By adopting a strategic succession planning process, you will set up an environment to respond to change more productively and ensure leadership continuity. It will contribute to the ongoing health and longevity of your organisation and finally, succession planning is a powerful process for recognising, developing and retaining top talent within your team.
So, why not make the time and take this opportunity to reflect on your role, pen a succession plan for your team, and encourage a workplace culture that embraces position change through learning, career development and effective succession planning?