Key tips for successful succession planning

Key tips for successful succession planning

There will always be an in and outflow of talent in your business; that’s a given. Roles change as business demands change, and as people change, their employment needs change.

A successful succession strategy helps you mitigate risks when key people leave the business, and it's more than just choosing a successor. Let us take a look at how you can build a succession planning strategy.

1) Communicate on time

Research shows that lack of clear communication is one of the biggest threats to succession planning in any business. Identifying a successor for a key role and not telling the person is an age-old mistake. Informing the identified successor shows that they are valued, that their career development matters, and that they will probably stay in the company a lot longer.

2) Choose the right time for the announcement

When a key person leaves a company, employees are often left with many questions, such as "Who will take over?" or "Will things change?". If a successor is chosen, it's better to share the news with the rest of the employees as soon as possible to help them digest the information and get used to this new person.

If the successor is not 100% bought over, it would be wise to delay informing staff straight away or keep the conversation between a few key team members and senior managers.

3) Establish a fair and transparent selection process

Sometimes employees might feel that someone internally or externally was handed the vacant role without proper selection, especially if the position was not advertised. It's advisable to announce the vacancy internally first, to give the other team members their names forward for the role.

You can also share your formal criteria and process of choosing a successor. This can boost trust and engagement among employees.

4) Engage other leaders in the process

Succession planning is a company-wide process that should involve all managers and leaders at all levels in the company. These leaders can engage with potential successors on their career paths and personal development, hence building trust and fruitful discussions about the succession plan.

5) Conduct a trial for your succession plan

It’s advisable to test whether the successor can conduct more advanced roles in the business. Afterwards, you can sit with them to identify what went wrong and what didn't and leverage their strengths while working on areas of opportunity.

6) Integrate your succession plan into your hiring strategy

Identifying employees as a successor is good, but who will fill their shoes after choosing them? It's advisable to take note of the talent gaps they would leave behind if they were chosen. Integrating your succession plan into your hiring strategy will help you focus your efforts when recruiting in the future.

7) Think about your successor

When making a succession plan for your company, you need to keep in mind that your role will have to be taken by someone at some point. Maybe you'll decide to retire or take on another opportunity. It's important to ask yourself, "Which employee will step in your shoes one day?" and “What can you do to help him transition to the new role?"