Let’s say that one of your key employees, a manager or the person you thought was going to follow you at the helm of the company has to leave tomorrow. What are you going to do about it? Are you prepared in any way for this change? If you don’t feel prepared for what’s about to come, then you might need to take a look at this.
What Is Succession Planning?
Succession planning is the process through which a company or any business, for that matter, prepares for the event of a key member of the staff leaving. Companies who have already implemented this process recognize the fact that one person might not stay with the same company forever. Not even if they are the founder. Therefore, the company starts preparing for such an event early on. It’s crucial to address all the changes that may come. The sooner you understand this idea, the better.
The best part of all succession planning programs and processes focuses on the senior manager. It can be the founder, director, or CEO. However, if you want to go about this idea correctly and thoroughly, then you should take into account all the relevant positions.
How does one tell the key positions from the rest? Usually, the key offices are those without which the business cannot exist. Apart from that, think of the people themselves, not necessarily about their roles. It may be that some people are so talented, skilled, or knowledgeable that their leaving needs to be dealt with somehow.
If the size of your company and your resources allow it, then succession planning should come from within. In other words, the way to go here is to grow someone already working for you, as opposed to bringing somebody else from the outside to occupy that position.
Comb through your organization and consider employees who have the following qualities.
- Are loyal to the company
- Leadership qualities
- Are already seen by the others as an informal leader
- The desire to fill that position
- Have the stamina and psychological profile of a person capable of filling such large shoes.
Here is what you, as an organization should do.
- Assess the needs you have right now as well as your future ones. Set your goals, plans, and objectives. It will help you see who is the best person within the company itself to make them come true.
- Build a strategic plan for making it all happen. Do not let anything to chance.
- Set your priorities straight. What are your most important goals and projects? Work on those first.
- Match all of the above with your workforce and their capabilities. Is there anyone who stands out from the crowd as being able to work on it in the future? Moreover, is there anyone who seems able to take over the high-priority projects right now, if anything should happen?
- Be aware of the fact that, when a key person leaves, there will be some gaps. Make a plan so as to cover them in the best way possible.
- Start promoting the individuals you find and who correspond to this pattern.
Here is an important tip. Given the fact that succession planning should come from the inside, it’s crucial that you make matters clear from the beginning. When you start putting all of the above into practice, you will do so with one or more people in mind. You will subject them to pieces of training and discussions. However, you need to let them know that this does not guarantee a top position for them.
Succession planning is not a promise you are making to someone that he or she will be CEO in the future. It is a development plan so that you can find the best person. If things happen not to work out during this time, then you will be forced to choose someone else instead.
Is Succession Planning Important?
Yes, as you might have imagined and as we plainly stated it above, it is. Here are all the reasons why.
- First and foremost, it is a guarantee that your company will continue to function at the same standards and deliver the same services even if a key player leaves.
- It will put at your disposal an ‘endless’ supply of people who are both motivated and qualified. They can quickly take over when one prominent member of your staff is with you no more. Moreover, even if they don’t all make it to that position, you can still use them. Taking into account all the pieces of training and preparations you provided for them, they are now extremely valuable employees.
- Succession planning as a process will align your company’s goals and projects with the staffing that you now have. It will let everyone know the direction in which the company is going. You will also be indirectly communicating to your employees what you are expecting from them in terms of performance.
- It will give you an amazing reputation on the market. You will be known as an employer who invests in his employees and wants to build astonishing career paths for them. The result will be a whole bunch of people coming to knock on your door as well as a stack of resumes in your inbox.
- Since everyone has a shot at becoming the new CEO, succession planning sends out the message that all your employees are valuable enough to sit in the high chair.
Who Is the Person Responsible for Succession Planning?
The main people who need to take action and see that the succession planning process is put into place are the executive director and the board itself. It goes like this. When it comes to the executive director, it is the board’s job to find a new one. Seeing as they are the ones who elected him, they must also find him a replacement.
If not, the consequences may very well be dire. There are many cases in which the whole organization falls into disarray after the executive director leaves. The funders wish to withdraw their resources, and more staff leaves because the leadership is not capable enough anymore.
Secondly, when it comes to the other key players, it becomes the executive director’s job to choose the best ones.
Challenges to the Succession Planning Process
- The size of your organization can become a challenge to succession planning. If your business is too small, then you simply might not have enough people to spare. You might also not be able to offer opportunities for them to advance. Therefore, you may even discover that your employees now want to leave for bigger companies.
- Not having enough financial resources to go through with the plan. As a consequence, some parts of your staff could again leave for better salaries or benefits.
- The type of funding you are working on might can an important role as well. Nowadays, more and more companies depend on funds coming from projects rather than on core funding. This idea translates into fewer core employees as well. Therefore, you will have fewer people from which to choose.
Project-based staff typically comes and goes. You cannot look at it as being part of your talent pool in which to search for your next executive director.
- If the process of succession planning is not done correctly or by the wrong people, it can lead to bad decisions. You might end up selecting individuals who are not capable or not skilled enough for the available position.
- Not providing the right type of training is yet another problem. Inadequate development can lead to promoting an employee who is incapable of handling the tasks you handed out to him.
- Time is of the essence with succession planning. Not being able to finish his training in due course before the former leader leaves will leave you with an incompetent director.
- Turning to external candidates can also prove to be an issue. Although they might be more skilled and have more experience, they don’t understand your company’s goals and values well enough. An external candidate does not know your staff. He or she might also be interested in the position solely for financial gain.
- Having too many or too few qualified internal candidates. Too many will pose a problem because you won’t know which one to choose. Too few of them will leave you with almost no options.
- Not coming to an agreement with all the stakeholders about the final decision. When trying to put a succession planning process into place, you should discuss all its aspects with your partners and stakeholders.
Not doing so will lead to disagreements later on. They can quickly turn into conflict. Remember that you are trying to select a new executive director or key member of the staff. It will not be an easy decision to make and everybody has to agree 100 percent.
A good idea when it comes to succession planning is to have the old and new occupants of the same position lead together for a while. In this way, you can assure a perfect transfer of knowledge and skill.
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