Guide to Succession Planning

Succession planning ensures your business continues to perform in your absence and when key people leave. It is a strategy to ensure smooth business performance rather than “firefighting” when key people leave. It also, and very importantly, ensures the business is not always dependant on you, the business leader. It frees you up.

So, who are your leaders of tomorrow? Select the right person and your business will thrive long-term. Getting it wrong destabilises the workforce creating disharmony, increases staffing costs and reduces both productivity and efficiency.

What is a succession planning strategy?

A succession planning strategy for onboarding the right person and training staff, ensures that if someone leaves the business there is always a suitable replacement available. This is incredibly important where key roles are concerned. It ensures there are no gaps and that key roles are not filled by employees who are unprepared for the requirements. They are not filled by just “anyone”. A classic example of this is where the “best performing person” (salesperson or technician) gets promoted and then fails, as their current behavioural competencies are not aligned to be a Leader.

Other benefits for implementing a succession strategy include:

  • Staff engagement and retention increases as they know where they are going.
  • It ensures the company values are maintained.
  • Your sales and customer service delivery will be consistent.
  • Your marketing and product delivery are consistent
  • Your recruitment costs will lower as you won’t have to keep paying replace staff.
  • You will have all teams aligned and supportive of each other.

How to Implement a staff succession strategy

1: Be very clear on your companies’ vision and purpose.

This guides and creates the right recruitment policy. They are the foundation for a successful succession strategy.

2. Identify your current key roles and project forward to your potential future needs.

Create a Job specification for each key role, which includes key measurable performance indicators (KPI’s). These indicators help identify the behavioural competencies that will deliver the key results.

3. Identify the key shared company values

It is critical for any business to have shared and aligned values. It is a big frustration for business when they promote and then identify a staff member who is not aligned. It is also very expensive and emotionally draining.

4. Select and invite the right high-potential candidates

Is the role you are looking to “succession protect” a people leadership role or a technical expert role, leading from the front role? These two people have different motivations. So often we see businesses promoting their top performing salesperson as the new manager and then seeing them fail which equates to their personal sales performance dropping, the team’s performance dropping and then losing this individual and some dis-satisfied staff. This destabilises businesses.

There is a big difference to the motivations and behavioural competencies of a people leader and a Tech Leader.

5. Invite applications from all company staff.

Having an open application policy creates a trusting and transparent business. Of course, some of the applicants may not be right, but opening it to all shows that a business always thinks about all their staff. It is also a great opportunity to meet more people and quite often uncover hidden talent. They will value that you are an open minded and equality-based business.

6. Selecting the right staff is just the start.

Once you have selected the right staff member into their new role it is essential to help them (with your support) create a personal development plan which should focus on developing the key 1-3 behaviours that will have the biggest impact on helping their performance and therefore their enjoyment. Remember the old saying: “People are promoted to the next level of their incompetence”.

7. All newly promoted people need support and development

Regularly meet your new successor. Start off with a weekly check in and slowly progress too fortnightly, monthly, quarterly. They will need your support and know you are they if they need it. They will go through four stages of development:

Stage 1: Unconsciously Incompetent. The are not a good leader yet and they don’t know it. Ignorant bliss.

Stage 2: Consciously Incompetent. They are now aware of their short comings. They are not great, and they know it.

Stage 3: Consciously Competent. They now know the right processes and systems that create great results and stick to these to create consistency. They are good and they know it.

Stage 4: Unconsciously Competent. They can now perform without thinking. They have cemented their core behaviours that create consistent performance. Some people call this stage “Mastery” or an “Ability”.

8. Personal Development Plans are for All.

When you create a culture of personal development for all, and implement plans to each staff member, you will find succession planning happens extremely smoothly as it will be supported by all.

Author: Martyn Lax Co-Founder

07855 300373

Assessment-Ai Ltd

Helping people hire or promote the Right person, First time, Every time.

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