Preparation is Key!
Simply put, succession planning is always being prepared for the unknown. It allows for you to have an in-depth knowledge of every aspect of your company and to always have a back-up plan available if you lose a key player in your organization. If you were to lose one of your key players now with no notice, what would happen?
Would you scramble to fill the role or do you already have someone in mind that is prepared and would do well in the position?
Succession Planning is a part of HR Planning Process where you begin by identifying the goals of the business and what the overall purpose of the company is. Following the review of business goals, you then scan the environment and identify gaps to determine if these business goals are being met. Succession planning falls under the category of identifying the gaps in the HR Planning Process, and every stage of Succession Planning always comes back to whether those business goals are being met once the final stage of evaluation is reached, and the evaluation of business goals begins again, restarting the process.
“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan not the goal.”
The first stage of succession planning is identifying the key areas and positions that your company requires to run efficiently. This could include multiple departments in larger organizations, such as large-scale hotels that require more people in order to operate, or if you are a smaller operation it could be a more simple format with all staff under the same section. If there are multiple departments, it is recommended to go through one at a time and examine each thoroughly to understand the necessary roles in each.
After you have identified what the key roles are in your organization, you then examine each role more closely. This is where you identify the capabilities for each position required for the person to be successful in their role, which in turn contributes to the overall success of the business goals. For example, a business goal of a taxi company would be to have a reputation for providing the best service possible to their passengers. A capability required for the role of a taxi driver would be to provide excellent customer service while safely transporting passengers to their destination. This capability supports the business goal of the company by reinforcing that in order to be successful in this goal, the driver is the one who must present excellent customer service and safe transportation of all passengers to earn this reputation.
“Strategic planning will help you fully uncover your available options, set priorities for them, and define the methods to achieve them.”
– Robert J. Mckain
The next stage is looking at who you already have in each of these roles. Where they stand now is the starting point for creating their path to succession. This includes examining who shows potential for moving up, and who has expressed interest in moving up within the company. Every employee will have a different path, and the employee should be included in creating their path to ensure they are going where they aspire to be. This will allow for the employee to feel empowered and know what their future could look like with this company if they continue on this path, or make changes if they feel they want to branch out to different departments if they have that option. Each employee will have gaps in their knowledge to fill before they are ready to move ahead with their plan. It is up to the manager/supervisor to provide opportunities for employees to attend any necessary training during the implementation stage, within reason.
Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.
– Tom Peters
After the plan is created, the next step is to put it in action. An approach that often works when implementing is to establish both short-term and long-term plans so that both the employee and their supervisor understands what their immediate focuses are for this pathway for the employee. The timeline is crucial in this as it must be created to be realistic and achievable within the time provided with milestones so the employee and supervisor are able to track progress.
An evaluation of the effectiveness follows implementation of the different pathways. This is typically done annually during employee reviews, to see if they have reached the point they expected to on their timeline. Another approach for the evaluation stage is to have less formal reviews and do quick periodic check-ins with the employees and can be as frequent as monthly and could be as short as 5-10 minutes just for an update. Either way, when performing these evaluations with staff it is necessary to document all that was said in these meetings for reference when the time comes to have the next meeting. This includes recording any accomplishments, such as reaching a milestone since the last meeting, and adjusting goals as needed so that there is constant communication between the employee and the supervisor.
“The number one role of any leader is to identify and prepare their successor.”
– Bill Bliss, Coaching for Leaders
In conclusion, The process of succession planning is always evolving and ongoing. The key to having a successful succession plan is communication, collaboration, and always ensuring that every aspect of the succession planning process comes back to reinforcing the business goals of the company.
Author: Brysan Cumming, TIAPEI HR Advisor
This project is funded in whole or in part by the Canada/Prince Edward Island Labour Market Development Agreements.