succession planning best practices

What is one best practice for succession planning?

To help you plan for succession within your company, we asked successful business owners and HR managers this question for their best insights. From utilizing assessments for internal promotions to recollecting the challenges you faced early on, there are several ideas that may help you plan for succession in the future.

Here are nine insights for succession planning within your company:

  • Utilize Assessments For Internal Promotions
  • Look for Replacements Right Away
  • Promote From Within
  • Start With the End in Mind
  • Increase Transparency and Communication
  • Work to Achieve a Stable Business Leadership
  • Identify the Best Candidates
  • Define the Role and Responsibilities of the Successor
  • Recollect the Challenges You Faced Early On
  • Communicate Regularly With Your Successor
  • Prepare a Detailed Action Plan
  • Identify Your Priorities Up Front
  • Involve Stakeholders
  • Have a Backup Plan
  • Engage in Active Strategic Talent Management

Succession Planning Best Practices

Utilize Assessments For Internal Promotions

When wanting to promote from within, it can often be a daunting task to look at your available employees, and quickly assess what their strengths are for shifting into various roles within your organization–that is where assessments can fulfill that need. A valid and reliable assessment can be so much more than a tool to aid in your hiring process. It can be used throughout the lifecycle of your employee in helping to coach them or promote them into roles they would be a great fit for. In this ever-changing job market, knowing your team member’s strengths can really help you to pivot quickly and aid in your development of talent. A happy and fulfilled employee leads to a better overall experience for them, their teammates, management, and your customers.

Linda Scorzo, Hiring Indicators

Look for Replacements Right Away

When it becomes apparent that one of your team members will be jumping ship, beginning to look for their replacement right away can be of the essence. In today’s business climate, it isn’t always easy to find quality candidates with your desired skill sets, so the sooner you can start holding interviews, the better. Plus, if you can make the hire soon enough, their predecessor may even be able to help in some ways with the training and transition process.

Greg Gillman, MuteSix

Promote From Within

Include career development and performance evaluations in your succession planning process. Instead of hiring someone new from the outside, it may be more accessible, less expensive, and more practical to promote from within the organization. Current employees are familiar with your products, know the company culture, try to achieve company objectives, and have a degree of loyalty. Check to see if the organization has programs to assist people in improving their abilities, learning new technology, and taking on new leadership roles and responsibilities. Start by mapping out departmental and divisional hierarchies, keeping a dynamic list of staff talents and experience, and visualizing who is ready to advance into new jobs and take on greater responsibility.

Axel Hernborg,

Start With the End in Mind

Take the time to grasp exactly what you’ll be searching for in terms of jobs to fill, the qualifications for those roles, and what’s crucial for your company’s success. Next, determine the fundamental talents, skills, abilities, and other requirements for someone to succeed in a certain function at your firm. Ensure that you are as inclusive as possible while doing this step by interviewing your strongest incumbents and their superiors for advice. Models of leadership competency, revised job descriptions, and a list of roles to be included in the process can be included in the output.

Marilyn Gaskell, TruePeopleSearch

Increase Transparency and Communication

A critical component of succession planning is ensuring that every stakeholder is on the same page and is made aware of the plans being set into motion. There needs to be a deliberate and consistent increase in transparency. And the only way to achieve this is to increase the frequency and quality of communication. By consistently interacting with every stakeholder, the succession planner allows stakeholders to participate in the process and even contribute to it in the form of constructive criticism or helpful hints. This step of bringing onboard stakeholders also serves as fair notification and results in a smoother transition.

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Aspiring Families

Work to Achieve a Stable Business Leadership

An effective succession planning process ensures that a company can go through its different seasons of rise and fall with a continuous and stable leadership system. When a company is going through a volatile season, the leadership is the most important in preventing the business from folding at such a time. Hence, a company needs to have a choice of successor for any of its leaders at any time to ensure a seamless succession decision-making process when it’s time to review that.

Businesses with stable leadership also tend to work in line with a vision that they foresee to bring success to the company. Having such a system ensures that other aspects of the business, such as customer service and employee experience, can continue uninterrupted even in the time of a crisis. This is possible with a robust talent development program that helps in succession planning for the long haul.

Ryan Yount, Luckluckgo

Identify the Best Candidates

Identifying potential candidates is perhaps the most crucial stage in succession planning. For starters, it’s crucial to identify people who want more responsibility. Your top choice may be someone who is happy in their current role and not looking to change. It’s also worth considering that there are other promising candidates who aren’t necessarily next in line for a top position. You should also assess the skills they possess, what skills they are lacking, and what training they will need to succeed.

Michelle Arnau, Rowan

Define the Role and Responsibilities of the Successor

One best practice for succession planning is to clearly define the role and responsibilities of the successor. This will help ensure a smooth transition. The successor should also be familiar with the company’s culture and operations. Make sure you train and guide them to be ready to take over when the time comes. You can pay for their education, help them network, and give them opportunities to learn about the business. Having a well-defined succession plan will help ensure continuity for your business.

Peter Lucas, Relocate to Andorra

Recollect the Challenges You Faced Early On

Begin with taking a trip down memory lane and try to recollect your early days in the role you wish to pass on to your successor. What were the primary challenges you faced when you took on this role early on and what were the solutions that helped you work your way through them? Who were the stakeholders who proved to be valuable allies? What were the most imposing barriers? In answering these questions, you will be able to put together all the essential components that would make for a smooth and successful succession plan.

Eva Taylor, WP Buffs

Communicate Regularly With Your Successor

After you’ve decided who will take over the reins of your business, it’s time to ensure that you have a solid plan in place for how that transition will occur. This will include things like determining the timeline for the handover and how you will train and prepare your successor to take on their new role.

Make sure that you are communicating regularly with your successor and that they are up to speed on all the important information and responsibilities required to run the business.

Also, be sure to document everything so that your successor has access to all the information they need to succeed. Preparing a detailed transition plan will help ensure that your business doesn’t miss a beat when it comes time to pass the torch.

Matthew Ramirez , CEO, Rephrasely

Prepare a Detailed Action Plan

To create a solid succession plan, a manager should start by analyzing the company’s business needs and identifying key positions for its development. The next step is identifying the essential competencies required to take up these positions.

Skills development can include mentoring, coaching, job rotation, and educational programs. Succession planning should be linked to the tasks of the HR department, such as performance management, compensation system, recruitment, and retention. It should also include the company’s strategy.

This way, the investment in future leaders will be appropriately directed, reflecting the direction in which the organization is heading.

Natalia Brzezinska , Marketing & Outreach Manager, US Visa Photo

Identify Your Priorities Up Front

Succession planning can be a time-consuming process when there are at least a few objectives to meet within an organization. Identify your priorities up front and then create a prospective timeline to refine these priorities before executing the plan.

This will help the entity leverage its time, resources, and human capital as they level up its transition. If external help is needed for guidance, i.e. from legal and industry-specific SMEs, budget for these investments by including them in the plan.

The goal is to execute a plan that doesn’t burden the organization’s constraints and operational parameters. Focus to identify the priorities which will set the tone for how the succession planning will unfold.

Sasha Laghonh, Founder, Sasha Talks

Involve Stakeholders

Succession planning refers to identifying who is ready to take up the vacant positions after retirement or resignation. Most organizations experience hardships in this process, since they are not always ready for it. As a result, such companies hire from outside by advertising the key roles for the vacant position.

To avoid sourcing external talents, ensure you engage all the stakeholders for proper decision-making and hiring. Conduct interviews together as they provide insights during the succession planning process.

Kara Swisher’s view on succession planning is that as the leadership changes, it calms water among activist investors. Involving all stakeholders is, therefore, an essential approach to succession planning.

Yongming Song , CEO, Live Poll for Slides

Have a Backup Plan

One best practice for succession planning is to have a backup or contingency plan. This means that if a key employee that you have in mind for succession leaves the company, then there is someone in place who can step in and take on their responsibilities.

This approach also means that the company is prepared for any potential unexpected departures, which adds stability to the organization. Plus, it can be a great way to develop other employees who may be interested in taking on a leadership role in the future.

Grace He , People & Culture Director,

Engage in Active Strategic Talent Management

One best practice regarding succession planning is to engage in active strategic talent management. This means regularly taking stock of your organization’s current and future workforce needs to develop individuals within an organization. Strategic talent management involves identifying and keeping top performers while also taking proactive steps to ensure that leadership skills are developed and in place to fill any future gaps.

This approach not only serves as a hedge against shifts in your particular industry, but ensures that the culture you have cultivated remains intact in the future. Knowing how essential this practice is for sustained success, I prioritize strategic talent management when making succession plans.

Jamie Irwin , Marketing Executive, Service Club Delivery

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