Succession planning, like anything worthwhile in life, requires work. But when it’s done well, it ultimately saves recruitment time and company money. The process provides certain opportunities that you may miss if you choose to skip or table it. Take a look:
Assessment of leadership needs. You, your Board, and your entire management team get to determine the knowledge, expertise, talent, skills, and experience needs of your organization over the next three to five years. This exercise can re-energize strategic players and renew individuals’ commitment to your mission. Planning for position successors is nearly impossible unless you know precisely what you need.
Identification of high potentials. Once you clearly see what you need, you can spot employees who possess the qualities, attributes, credentials, personality, values, behaviors, and skills to fill those needs. These people are your collaborators, influencers, innovators, change agents, risk takers, and mentors. They may not be ready right now, but with proper grooming they can grow into the positions for which they are the best fit. For more information on high potentials, watch this video!
Elimination of fear. When staff become aware that senior leadership is cognizant of the ebb and flow in employment rosters and consciously is taking steps to ensure cohesiveness, they are less afraid of whatever comes next. In general, folks remain calm. They trust that the issue is being addressed, whether or not they themselves are part of the dialogue. This trust, priceless both short and long term, builds individual and collective confidence.
Retention of key organizational knowledge. Each person on your staff, regardless of title or level, has historical and current knowledge and insights about your organization, its culture, its products and services, and its processes. Have you thought about that? And have you ever pondered what you lose in this regard every time someone walks out the door? You actually lose a lot. Succession planning forces you to think about how you can hang onto at least some of that valuable knowledge.
Avoidance of extended staff vacancies. Think of a succession plan this way: A solid, viable roadmap in place is like an insurance policy that protects your organization from inconsistent performance, ball dropping, and emotional upheaval. It also guards against overburdening the remaining employees who are already “beyond busy” during the interim period. Your goal is to move competent, capable, motivated successors into their new seats as quickly as possible.
When you plan to deal with inevitable human resources gaps, you prepare for the future. It’s as simple as that. No matter where you work, staffing changes are bound to occur. Believe me, the issue is not if but when.