Destination Directory

Don’t Wait! Creating a Succession Plan

It's not easy to think about having your valuable team members leave the company, whether that's through retirement or otherwise.

Yet to remain successful, it's important to take a look at your company's plan—or create one—for when they do go.

Out of everything that can be done, the most important thing business leaders can do to prepare is to simply to talk about it. Sit down for a meeting once a year with senior managers and various leaders within your company; doing this can also help in developing training needs for the coming years.

Organize your thoughts by creating a succession template where you can outline personnel within your company that's on your radar. Remember to keep it simple! This template should be easy to look at visually. Next, detail people who sit in critical roles and possess special skills. Doing this will allow you to see on paper who you'd certainly miss and gives leadership a chance to ponder who should be in line for their position.

Consider these three questions:

  1. With the right preparation, would this person be able to do the job?
  2. With the right preparation, would this person want the job?
  3. Does this position align with the person's individual long-term career goals?

Hopefully, you'd be able to answer "yes" to all of them. But if a potential successor isn't ready yet in certain areas, still keep them in mind: With the right development, they could be ready when the time comes. Outlining employees who would make potential successful leaders also gives you an idea of who to give more challenging tasks to—preparing them for their possible future role.

Be sure to make note of things that come up through the year, such as an employee expressing interest in a certain position or learning a new skill, rather than waiting until your annual meeting. While you should set aside one day a year to focus on just succession planning, it will be a truly effective endeavor if it remains top of mind throughout the year.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.