Post the pandemic, attrition levels have boomed, and this has also percolated into the organization’s leadership. Accountability, the potential to take calculated risks, and approaching innovative solutions have become necessary traits for modern-day leaders and managers. This necessitates the need for a succession plan.
What is succession planning? What is the need for planning for future work? Let’s explore from scratch in this blog.
What is Succession Planning?
Succession planning is an intelligent and focused business strategy that helps identify the key people to fill all the critical positions at the top. It prepares the business for contingencies by developing a talented and skilled workforce.
Benefits of Succession Planning
One of the primary reasons for having a succession planning strategy is identifying the competencies and the desirable traits required from the leadership. A succession plan can help an organization maintain its workforce stability besides having a range of other benefits, namely:
1. Shelters the Organization from Sudden Changes
One of the most important reasons for having a succession planning strategy is that it makes the organization highly resilient. Attrition rates are at an all-time high, and many organizations take the easier route of replacing workers as they leave the organization.
However, in the long term, this is not the best decision. It impacts the well-being and growth of your best employees as they stand the chance of being poached by a competitor. Even though employees can be easily replaced, it can cost the company a lot in terms of the new hire.
2. Identifies Employee Weaknesses and Skill Gaps
By having a well-thought-out succession strategy, companies can do a risk assessment that helps them identify the gaps in the skill base. After that, highly nuanced training programs can be chalked out that help develop the workforce.
Organizations can do this for every department and see all the weak points within the hierarchy. In addition, risk mitigation can be done, and top talent can be developed.
3. Promotes Training and Development
One of the most significant advantages of having a succession planning strategy is that it can promulgate linear progression for employees. Supported by a well-rounded training program, succession planning can help employees to move laterally to a different department within the same organization. Employees wish to see stable growth.
Otherwise, they leave the organization for greener pastures. Learning should be all-encompassing – providing opportunities for coaching, mentoring, leadership, and professional certifications.
4. Prevents Brain Drain
Employees that have stayed within the organization for a long time learn and imbibe a lot. As a result, when they leave, there is an immense knowledge transfer that takes place. So it could be a massive loss to the company in terms of talent.
By having a succession path in place, the new employees can quickly take over the reins from the older employee whose departure is anticipated. Succession planning also allows companies to look closely at their processes and fine-tune them if necessary.
5. Helps in Planning Long-term Talent Retention
A succession strategy can give your employees a clear vision of career growth. They are less likely to leave the organization if they are assured of professional and financial development. Succession planning helps to pursue a plan of workforce continuity.
6. Enables the Organization to Garner Long-Term Repute
In the past, companies have suffered a loss in reputation due to a poorly planned succession strategy. The damage owing to this can be prevented. Organizations must take vital steps to ensure that the new senior executives coming in are correctly acquainted with the company’s value systems.
In addition, the employee must understand what binds the company and the business. At the same time, rash attempts to force the cultural ethos should be avoided as it paves the way for a negative perception from both employees and customers.
7. Helps to uncover weaknesses
When senior leaders groom junior executives, it paves the way for a transparent conversation. Juniors can help uncover weaknesses in the organization’s processes, leading to better streamlining while developing employee engagement programs. Corporate norms that have become old can be looked into with a fresh set of eyes and revised accordingly.
How does the Succession Planning Process Work?
A good succession plan follows some of the critical methodologies as given below:
1. Align the program with the business goals
All succession programs must be engineered to align with the overall business vision or strategy. It is essential during the creation of standard operations, practices and schedules. An aligned succession planning process can smooth out attrition in the long run.
2. Incorporate different training methodologies
Human learning is never straightforward. People have different retention capabilities and tend to respond to other training stimuli. Therefore, it is wise to incorporate an assortment of training methodologies for succession planning to work. Learning through classroom training, cross-functional training, case studies, on-the-job training, and job shadowing are some of the ways by which learning can be imbibed.
3. Implement performance management modules
Employees learn and do better when they feel they are a part of the planning and strategy. Their willingness to be a part of it and its goals should be an overall component of a good succession planning program and performance management system.
4. Take a long-term approach
Succession planning cannot be done in a week or a month. Therefore, it is good to take a long-term approach, with the program implementation being carried out over 36 months. Encouraging leaders and team members to holistically see the program for succession planning for the best results is essential.
5. Look beyond the specific skill sets
Merely searching for and recruiting employees with the standard set of skills for the program may not be the best approach. Looking for employees across the entire organization’s breadth for complementary skill sets is best. This helps in picking out employees with the most versatile skill sets.
6. Plan for knowledge transfer
It is essential to prepare certain vital documents, such as a knowledge transfer register of the repository. Identifying the skills and competencies of the next-gen employees and recording them in an organized fashion is one of the processes of a good succession plan. This will shorten the learning curve. Partner training is another option to consider.
8 Steps to Formulate a Succession Planning Strategy
Step 1: Be proactive with a plan
It can be disorienting when companies get to know that key employees are leaving. Therefore it is essential to have a plan ready in advance. All key roles must be visualized in detail, and the organization must note how they will be affected by the departure of employees in both junior and senior positions.
Step 2: Choose the right candidates
Companies must brace for attrition. Therefore, choosing suitable candidates for the right roles is wise to prepare for sudden departures. Companies must ascertain – which candidates internally can best fit the role and, if that were true, what kind of training would be needed to develop these employees.
Step 3: Let your employees know
Once employees have been identified that will fit well in future roles, they must be nurtured and developed. Therefore, it is prudent to record their learning milestones to see how well they develop over time.
Step 4: Step up the efforts
Succession planning is difficult; a vigorous training program must be engineered and implemented after identifying employees. The training program can take place over 2-3 years. Progress must be recorded to identify discrepancies and address them in a timely fashion.
Step 5: Carry out the plans on trial basis
Organizations can never predict whether a succession plan will be successful or not. Hence it is essential to do a trial run. Appointing a succession planning manager can help to kickstart the process and give the manager a new role to assume and shine.
Once an organization has identified employees as future successors, talent gaps must be addressed. These gaps can then be filled in all future hiring strategies.
Step 6: Engage stakeholders in the process
Organizations fail miserably when they do not have the proper support to follow a succession plan. Cooperation from other senior stakeholders within the organization is mandatory. It can open avenues for senior management to exercise their skills in choosing suitable candidates.
Step 7: Be proactive
A good succession planning program requires a lot of painstaking effort. All stakeholders in charge must come together to make the strategy successful.
Step 8: Create individual development plans
No two individuals or employees are the same. Therefore, the training methodology and retention ability will differ among employees in a company. Consequently, it is essential to create individual development programs tailor-made for employees.
Demographic shifts will create intense competition for qualified talent. However, a constantly evolving business environment is now emphasizing the need for employees who can think on their feet and show high levels of adaptability in a dynamic environment. Many employees will also lack the core and critical skills to work effectively.
Thus, there is a dire need for organizations to harvest these skills from cross-functional departments or organize vigorous training programs to upskill them. The retirement of baby boomers is compounding the problem of the skill gap. Hence, devising a robust succession planning strategy to surmount these problems is the need of the hour.