7 Secrets of Successful Succession Planning

7 Secrets of Successful Succession Planning canstockphoto15727411

When the time arrives to lay the foundation for the future of your business or company, developing and implementing a succession plan is the natural next step. Creating the necessary internal structure and supports to guide current employees toward filling key leadership positions within your company is no small task, and there’s far more to succession planning than just finding the right replacement for someone who’s retiring or leaving.

Still, before you dive into the steps and strategies of creating (or revisiting) your company’s succession plan, viable succession plans have a number of common traits that can help guide your work. Consider these 7 secrets:

1. Don’t Create in Isolation

Development or revision of your succession plan is an enormous undertaking in and of itself. While the research and legwork can be done in smaller groups, be careful to keep the larger picture clearly in view. Do the work to assure your success plan is in close alignment to your company’s mission and vision statements and long-term goals. After all, a succession plan is a way of extending your current business and operations into the future, so view it as a portion of the continuum of your business, not a patch or a short-term solution.

2. Keep the Doors Open

Since the implementation of a succession plan will affect employees at every level of your company, making certain there’s a transparency to your work helps promote a culture of collaboration.Showing employees you’re planning for continued operations reinforces the feeling that they’re appreciated and cared for, and inviting feedback is great for improving engagement.

3. Create from Diversity

The fastest way for a success plan, or any plan for that matter, to fail within an organization is to allow employees or members to feel as though the plan was created by a few people with hidden agendas and secret goals. Your succession planning team should be made of individuals from every department of your company in which the plan will be implemented. Not only will this ensure equitable representation, but those individuals are a direct, tangible link between the planning and the people who will ultimately carry it out.

4. Start From the Top

While your HR and personnel departments will most likely serve as the cogs and wheels once the succession plan takes off, upper management support is the backbone of a well-received and effective succession plan. Making employees feel the plan supports their interests and well-being makes the difference between buy-in and reluctance. Consider the planning from a whole-organization perspective: if your boss doesn’t view the actions of his superiors with confidence, how likely would you be to do differently?

5. Continue Evolving

Once your team and plan are in place, don’t fall under the assumption that there’s nothing left to do. Succession planning is not a one-shot and done deal. Over time, your company will change. People will move on, move up or retire. Your mission and vision might be refined and retooled. Don’t you want the same to be true of the process you’re using to keep the company moving forward? Integrate ongoing reviews of your plan in the original framework.

6. Fine-Tune the Infrastructure

One of the main tenets of succession planning is promoting from and filling positions from within the boundaries of your current employee pool. Creating a systematic structure of hiring, measurement, promotion and evaluation processes that are aligned to mold and develop the kind of candidate you’re seeking is a critical step to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Take it to the Streets

When your internal processes match your succession planning needs and the qualities you’re seeking to develop are crystal clear, move your search beyond your current employees with the knowledge that you know what it is you’re looking for. Nothing in your business operations should be haphazard--including hiring and bringing the right talent on board. Work from the point of view of knowing what you want and finding the people you need, not taking what you get and hoping that it fits.

Creating, implementing and maintaining succession planning in your organization is a big task, but one with absolute rewards. Beginning with the end in mind, or at least bits of what’s worked well for others isn’t a guarantee of success but is a positive foundation from which to start.

Beth Morrow is a freelancer, author and program director of senior week at Camp Hamwi, a residential camp for teenagers with diabetes. Contact her at: Beth@BethMorrow.com