First things first, when you hear the word ‘succession’, what comes to mind?

a) HBO’s satirical drama series about the dysfunctional billionaire Roy family, or b) a strategic plan that enables an employer to “ensure employees are recruited and developed to fill each key role within the company.”

Obviously, these are both great answers, but today we’ll be focusing on the latter: succession planning for your business.

No matter the size of your company, succession planning should be considered a top priority. A good succession plan will help prepare your organization for times of change, so you can react quickly to unexpected departures, retirement of key employees, future growth and expansion, and everything in between – without missing a beat.

The big picture

An effective succession plan will align with your overall business strategy and allow you to hire new team members, develop current employees and promote top performers in a way that supports your organization’s short-term and long-term goals.

A good first step is to reflect on where your organization is at right now, and where you’re going. Afterall, your business is unique, and your succession plan should be, too.

Figure out where you’re at

Meet with your leadership team to get an idea of your employees’ current skillsets, strengths and weaknesses. With this insight, you’ll be able to identify where there may be talent gaps within your organization.

  • Do any employees stand out as being particularly high performing? These are employees you’ll want to make note of for potential leadership roles down the line.
  • Are any team members underperforming? If so, is it possible to offer additional training or support to help them become more engaged and reach their potential?

Once you figure out where talent gaps exist, you can decide if it’s feasible to train up existing employees, or if you’ll need to onboard individuals with more specialized experience to fill those particular roles.

Understand what your employees actually want to do

When you’ve got a good idea where you’re at currently, that’s when you’ll want to shift your focus to learning more about where your employees want to go. Encourage open conversations with your team regarding their future with your organization:

  • What do they enjoy about their current role? What would they like to do more of?
  • What don’t they enjoy about their current role? What would they like to have taken off their plate?
  • Are they interested in developing a particular skill?
  • Is there an area of the business they’d like to learn more about?
  • Do they have a desire to be in a leadership position in the future?

This step is particularly important because it allows you to gauge your employee’s interest, ambition, motivation and vision for their personal career development.

See, it’s one thing for you to decide that Pat’s got the potential to make a great controller, or that you can see a clear path for Alicia to become the next COO – but if Pat loves nothing more than spending his day doing accounts receivable, and Alicia has no interest whatsoever in joining the C-suite, that’s something you want to know now – or else you may find yourself in quite a pickle down the line.

Bottom line: it’s a waste of everyone’s time to develop a succession plan that your employee isn’t bought into or doesn’t care to pursue – so do your due diligence and make sure you’re both on the same page from the get-go.

Don’t keep quiet about growth opportunities

Let your team know that you have a succession plan in place, that you’re invested in their learning and development, and that there are clear paths for growth within your organization.

Why? Well, for starters, we polled our LinkedIn followers and discovered that the majority of respondents – a whopping 33% – identified opportunities for career growth and development as the number one thing they consider when joining a company. On the flip side, studies show that a lack of future growth opportunities is a sure-fire way to lose your high performers to the greener pastures of the competition.

Making it clear that you support your employees’ goals and career progression is an excellent way to attract and retain staff, boost engagement and increase loyalty to your organization.

Closing the gaps

Remember how we said your succession plan should be tailored to fit your business? Work with your leadership team to make sure each employee’s growth plan makes sense for them and will support them in reaching their goals within the organization.

From mentorship and job shadowing to workshops and online courses – there are no shortage of ways to help your employees develop their skills, tackle new challenges and prepare to take on a new role when the opportunity arises.

There’s no time like the present

Tempted to put succession planning on the back burner? Frankly, we’d advise against it.

A significant percentage of the current workforce is gearing up for retirement, and when they do, all that experience and know-how is walking out the door with them, and it’s not coming back. The result? Talent gaps. Big ones.

Now is the time to focus on the transfer of skills and knowledge from one generation to the next. If possible, pair older and younger employees together on projects and encourage mentorship and on-the-job coaching. Working side-by-side with the experienced members of your team is an invaluable learning opportunity for your more junior staff.

Recruiting to support your succession plan

Once your succession plan is in place, you’ll find you can be less reactive and more proactive with your hiring. With a good idea what roles you’re going to need filled not just now but in the long-term, you can begin making connections with potential candidates and building a pipeline of great people – and that’s where a recruitment agency can lend a hand.

Learn more about working with us here.