The “I Don’t Have Time To Succession Plan” Plan

Start Succession Planning Today canstockphoto16566395

Do you hear that?

The whispering sensation in the back of your mind telling you that each day you’re not developing and refining your company’s succession plan, the bigger the gamble you’re taking with the future?

You’ve been put in your leadership position for a reason: you’ve got the expertise, understanding, and ability to lead employees and guide your business toward higher profits and better customer relationships. Your life experiences combined with your business acumen impressed the right people and makes a difference each day to those who carry out company work.

So how can you go forward one more day without starting a serious evaluation of who will replace current employees in the case of retirement, relocation, or movement?

But how can you start right now, without knowing in which direction to go, where to start and how to plan, when day-to-day operations take the bulk of your working hours?

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to finding the time to develop your company’s succession plan. The bad news is that the belief in a perfect time is a fallacy. The good news is that you can start today, if you know what you’re looking for.

Start Where Things Work Best

Imagine it’s time for you to upgrade your phone. Whether the contract is up or there’s a new version you’ve had your eye on, you’re itching to get your hands on a newfangled piece of technology.

Do you wake up one morning, throw out your phone and stop in the wireless store on your way to work and pick up a new phone?

Of course not. You take your time, evaluate the benefits of your current model, how it complements your tasks, taking note of its functions and shortcomings so that in the pending upgrade, you’ll know exactly what performance specifications you need to help you maintain or even improve its usefulness and assist your productivity.


Because starting the phone replacement process from scratch is a ridiculous waste of time since you’ve already got a good idea of what phone features work for you and how well your current model meets your needs.

In the same vein, thinking it necessary to stop business operations for an extended period of time to lay the foundation of your succession plan is just as silly. But where to start?

The good news is that you don’t need to shut down to find an entry point into succession planning. With a little forethought, laying your succession plan’s foundation can start today. Let’s look at how.

5 Steps to Start Succession Planning Today

1. Determine Your Company's Key Positions

In any company, some positions are more crucial to daily operations and revenue than others. Knowing which positions (not personnel) are the most critical to successful functioning is a natural starting point for focusing your time and energy. These positions, if empty or inadequately staffed, create problems, loss of customers or reduced functioning of other positions.

  • 2. Evaluate the Functions of the Key Positions

How is the function of this key position integral to the company as a whole? What does it contribute to the organization? List the outcomes of the function that make it such a critical component to business operations.


  • Compile a List of Personnel Responsible for the Functions

Remember that with changes in structure, key functions are not always staffed by top-level personnel. Over time, leadership may have been diffused or reassigned to perform different functions in key positions.


  • Detail Specific Skills of Each Person

What skills does each person charged with the functioning of this key position bring with them to carry out their work? Do they possess extra skills that help them do a better job at this position than their peers?

5. Profile the Person(s) Most Crucial to The Success of Key Position(s)

Which individual or individuals are most effective and integral to the ongoing success of that position? What is it about their skill set that sets them apart? That is, what do they do beyond the basics that make a difference? At this point, you should have a better idea of which set of skills are most valuable in key positions within your organization. There might even be one or two employees whose combination of skills make them an ideal person for this particular position. This is what you’re seeking—to know what personnel skills are the most important to carrying out the functions of your organization’s key positions.

What you’ve done is more than make a list of people and their skills, you’ve found a viable place to focus your initial succession plan efforts. If this person (or these people) were to leave this key position in your organization, you have a solid idea of the qualifications, skills and knowledge potential candidates need to be successful at that position to limit the amount of disruption to the company as a whole. While it isn’t a complete succession plan, it will give you a valuable place to begin, and often that’s the most difficult part.

Beth Morrow is a freelance writer, blogger and educator who serves as program director at Camp Hamwi, a residential camp for teenagers with diabetes. Visit her at .