The most important part of succession planning is having it in place long before it is time for transition. Dropping someone into a key position without having the opportunity to develop the required skills is a recipe for failure.
Succession planning involves more than simply slotting people into replacement roles based on longevity. A successful plan begins with a thorough analysis of the skills required to do each job well. Some leaders begin grooming their replacements a decade or more in advance.
Identify key roles
It is essential to identify individuals with key roles companywide, not just those in the C-suite. While the warehouse manager may not be part of the executive team, he does hold critical knowledge about keeping things running, and it is a mistake not to have someone moving up the ranks to take over when the need arises.
After identifying the likely candidates, it is important to notify them about their potential career path. Knowing there is an opportunity on the horizon may shape their near-term decisions and discourage them from looking elsewhere.
Create a development plan
A well-thought-out succession plan includes allowing successors to develop the essential skills they will need to thrive in their future roles. A career development plan should include educational programs, professional networking and mentorship. If done properly, this approach can help provide a seamless transition.
Once a succession plan is in place, a periodic review will reveal any gaps that need attention. People leave the company, and the tools for success will change over time.