What is Succession Planning? Why is it necessary for organisational success and effectiveness?

Succession planning creates policies and procedures that help your company identify and develop potential successors for mission critical roles in advance of departures and ensure talent pipelines to the top are well resourced. Today’s workforce is a highly mobile one. Labour markets are competitive. When someone critical decides to step out, it’s imperative companies have well-informed plans and processes for transferring knowledge and ownership quickly and smoothly to a new person. It’s equally important that people resources are thoughtfully acquired and developed in line with upcoming business plans and strategies. Good planning helps with this.

What Good Succession Planning Can Deliver:

Business Continuity

Above all, effective succession planning ensures business continuity. Departures are disruptive. It’s crucial for specialised and high-level roles where there might not be a ready supply of talent when stuff happens. It’s not just important for large companies. Small businesses need succession too. Businesses in general need to scale, change and develop. There is no such thing as being too early in thinking about how to keep the succession pipeline full.

Thoughtful Talent Acquisition and Management

Systematic effort into identifying the depth and range of talent in your business enables you to invest in relevant people, those with the potential to advance in their careers. It also gives a sense of where your organisation might be falling short, or where the team is lacking particular skills, so underpins objectivity about those who possess the necessary skills, and how they need to be developed to fill the gaps.

Development of New Leaders

One of the benefits of succession planning is that it helps develop next generation leaders. The process encourages employees to engage in feedback and think about what needs to happen to get them to the next level. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses and collaboratively forming and actioning agreed personal development plans with them, prepares them systematically for wider-span leadership roles rather than leaving them to stumble to the top and fail on the job.

Mentoring and Coaching that helps People Advance in Their Careers

Diligent succession planning not only enables better forecasting and planning of staffing needs but can help connect senior leaders with their potential successors by engaging them in mentoring and coaching relationships. These activities help build employees’ personal contracts with the organisation.

Employee Engagement and Retention

By supporting peoples’ development, engagement and satisfaction levels are often enhanced and succession planning anchored as a key part of retention strategy. People you invest in and develop for future roles are more likely to show commitment to the organisation.

So, what next?

Drawing together the key data in performance appraisals and using the information to start mapping out where potential lies is a good starting point. Using the insights from internal and external assessment and development processes adds rigour. Running structured career ‘round tables’ of senior leaders to collectively talk through data, share their experience and impressions of people and get alignment on possibilities all help pull together a shared view of where talent lies and how it should be developed. All this sounds like motherhood and apple pie, but just about every survey identifies that most organisations haven’t got their succession covered and are strategically vulnerable to loss of key talent.

If you would like to talk to a member of the team about succession planning in your organisation, please contact us here.

Article written by Robert Irving.