How you, as the business owner, CEO, or executive, approach succession planning depends on how much of the process is in your control.

Succession planning is complex and requires a serious commitment, but overlooking this process is much more costly than waiting until the last minute to try to replace someone who leaves a key position. As a business coach and mentor, it’s my role to hold you accountable for completingĀ  a comprehensive succession planning process.

Take Time To Think About What Succession Planning Means To You

Think about what a good outcome of a succession plan is, and think about succession planning as a crucial organisational process that should be part of your culture, not just a one-time event to replace a key employee.

Define The Future Talent Needs And Roles For The Organisation

A quarterback throws the ball where the receiver will be, not where he is now. Similarly, you need to think about the talent and roles the business will need into the future. Consider the organisation’s strategy, future direction, and the types of talent and roles it will need as it evolves.

Plan Out The Future Organisation Chart(s)

A powerful exercise is to map out the current organisation chart and then organisation charts for one, three, and five years into the future. This exercise will help you to see where the business is, where it needs to go, and what it will take to get there. Based on these charts, work to answer these questions:

  1. What gaps and risks in key personnel do you notice in the organisation today?
  2. Who are the top performers who can keep developing and help the organisation grow?
  3. Looking into the future, what are the milestones when the organisation will make strategic new hires?

Have A Sound Professional Development Planning Process To Help Talent Grow

Many businesses have a professional development planning process in name only. Employees fill out an annual form from Human Resources detailing a plan for them to develop professionally, but there is often no follow-up. Challenge yourself to develop a development planning process for your business. How will the organisation support a strong professional development planning effort? Remember that the top ways people develop in organisations is through challenging work experiences and getting to know key people; professional development does not require a massive investment in training programmes.

Develop Career Paths And Career Plans So That Top Talent Can Advance

How does a high-potential employee advance in your organisation? For each role that involves leaders and potential leaders, what are the potential career paths? Of the organisation doesn’t have clear career paths, what does it need to do to develop them?

For some, you might focus only on developing replacements for your role. For others, you might cover the full range of issues to bring succession planning into the heart of the organisation. Make sure succession planning is treated as an ongoing, essential process that needs ongoing thought and attention, otherwise the organisation will be less likely to grow, attract talent, and attain it’s highest possible valuation. Also, leaders and managers will not have the leverage they need to focus on strategic issues rather than constantly fighting fires and immediate crises.