The Importance of Succession Planning and How to Implement it Effectively 
Succession planning is essential to ensure the future of your business. It involves planning who will take over senior and business critical roles once the current employees in your business move. It is also an important aspect of your retention strategy for your high potential employees. 
Topic Content 
This topic will highlight the importance of succession planning and how to implement it effectively. In addition, this topic will show how an independent HR consultant can help from an objective perspective, to ensure the best decisions are made in the interests of the business and individuals involved. 
Steps for efficient Succession Planning 
Being proactive and planning in advance 
In some instances, you will know when a position in your company needs filling, either through a planned restructure, promotion, retirement or through a notice period following a resignation. However, other times you might be caught off-guard and that’s why companies need to be proactive by having a succession plan in place. When considering which roles require inclusion into the succession plan key questions to ask are: what impact does the role play in both the day-to-day operations of the company, what impact does the role play in the future planned growth of the company and what would be the impact if the role was vacated suddenly? This will help to identify the key roles in your business that need to be filled to ensure the operational requirements are met with minimal disruption, whilst also investing in the future of the business. 
Internal vs External Talent/Hiring Strategy 
Whilst recruiting externally may bring in benefits such as new ideas and a wider talent pool, it will take new employees time to adapt to the company’s structure and culture. However, with advance planning, companies can identify their high potential employees and future leaders, nurture internal talent and utilize workers who understand the company and have relevant experience for the role. An effective succession planning strategy ensures your talented employees can be made aware that there are internal opportunities for developing their career, maximising the chance of retaining not just their skills but their loyalty and commitment to the business. 
The Succession Process 
It is important for the succession process to be equal, fair and transparent for all employees. A mistake many organisations make is keeping their succession plan top secret, with those employees who are on there not being made aware of this. In many larger companies, succession planning committees are set up in order to review the process and to challenge it to ensure that all candidates are judged objectively. In other organisations, this is a key responsibility of the leadership team and forms part of their quarterly or annual calendar. Independent HR consultants can play a key role here, as providing an objective view, and challenging preconceptions and unconscious bias, helping to serve the best interests of the company and individuals. 
When looking at succession planning for key positions, once a suitable candidate is found, the next step is to ensure that they will be ready to take on the new role when needed. This process can involve looking for any skill or experience gaps they might have and providing them with training or development to ensure these are filled. This might involve them working with the employee whose role they might be filling in the future. “Job-swapping” can also be used here, for example, the potential candidate can take on some of the responsibilities when the current jobholder is away on holiday. Involving them in projects that provide exposure to relevant areas of the business or individuals, as well as informal people management responsibilities are other examples of potential development opportunities. 
Looking for improvement 
Succession planning isn’t just for keeping your business running when employees leave, but also about the potential for improvement and growth for your business. Developing and promoting your high potential employees allows the existing company knowledge to be utilised whilst still allowing new ideas and approaches based on this knowledge and experience of working there. Succession planning also provides a real opportunity to focus on diversity and inclusion within your organisation. Cognitive diversity can make the difference in successful teams and organisations, bringing new ways of looking at issues; greater innovation and creativity; and reducing ‘groupthink’. The succession planning process is a time to hold a mirror up to the company and provides a real opportunity to draw on the diversity within your existing teams. 
Benefits of Succession Planning 
Succession planning is an investment into the future of your company by ensuring that there are talented employees ready to step up when a senior or business critical position is vacated. Developing a transparent process means employees are aware that the organisation is recognising their current contribution and future potential, with real opportunities for internal advancement, leading to higher levels of commitment and loyalty. It will allow current employees to develop the relevant skills for the business, so that they will be ready to step up when there is a role to be filled, and to secure the future success and growth of the company. Succession planning shows the company’s commitment to its future success and to the development of its people, which will result in not only retaining talent, but also encouraging new talent to join. 
HR Consultant and Succession Planning 
Independent HR consultants can provide a key and objective role in the succession planning process. They can also help by introducing different strategies for succession planning which best fit the size and nature of your business and through taking an objective look at your company they can help identify potential candidates for senior roles as well as working with the company to identify their high potential top talent. Drop us a line today - to chat.  
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