A succession plan is one of the most overlooked policies within many organizations because it is viewed simply as a tool for continuity. More accurately, though, it is a cogent, coherent draft for having the right people at the right place at the right time for the right role.

A well-considered and -designed succession plan is the perfect counter to the confusion, disruption and politics that can accompany a sudden departure. When creating one, use these guidelines.

Identify Critical Positions

These are positions that, if left unoccupied, have a significant negative impact on the daily operations and bottom line of the company. Many managers are surprised to find that seniority does not necessarily mean the greatest impact of absence – more often, it is the roles that form a nexus between different departments and/or levels of management that have the greatest repercussions.

Identify other Important Positions

While filling certain critical positions is imperative, other less important ones can also have a significant impact. It can trigger a particularly unpleasant domino effect throughout the organization if more than one is left unfilled. Creating a succession plan for every single employee, though, is usually unfeasible and an unnecessarily resource-consuming task.

Provide Training and Education

Preparing staff to take over a role means ensuring that they have all the necessary competencies, which includes both hard and soft skills. This can involve cross-training, job rotation, and temporary attachment to different departments. There is no restriction on promoting internally – some roles may require the experience and perspective of someone from outside. Where possible, try and rehire former team members who have diversified their skills externally.

Create Timelines

Every employee comes with their own suite of skills and experience, which contributes to an inconsistent preparation process for any role. Prepare a skills acquisition timeline that shows clearly which individuals will be ready for which roles in six months, 18 months, and so on. This gives you a broad and incisive oversight of the needs of the company.

Consider Future Scenarios

Your succession plan will obviously focus on your current structure but it is a good idea to also deliberate on roles that do not yet exist. This is especially important if your organization is in the process of expanding or has plans to in the near future. Creating a succession template on which to expand will ensure consistency in the long run.

Be Frank

Openness is very important when creating a succession plan. There is usually more than one person who believes they are the ideal choice to take over a particular position. By making it clear who is next in line for it and why, you are investing in a harmonious workplace as well as encouraging team members to upskill and work harder. In short, a succession plan is an investment in the success of the organization.

Please contact me today if you have and further questions about succession planning for your company or organization.