How to Create and Implement a Solid Succession Plan

How to Create and Implement a Solid Succession Plan

A succession plan is a key area often left untouched by small businesses all over the world.

Why? Because most of us are taught to plan and allocate for financial stability and profitability. Often employee succession planning involves little more than deciding you need a new supervisor or team manager, then sitting down and creating a job posting before scheduling interviews.

Why not instead create a plan to move your most loyal and talented employees up the ladder of success in your business and grow with you?

For ultimate success, a succession plan is something you should start doing from day one. And keep at it, refining it along the way, so you’re always one step ahead of your need for skilled staff.

Here’s a few tips on how to create and implement a solid success plan for any size of business:

Know where the holes are going to be.

This is Future Planning 101. Know where your business is going and where the talent gaps will be as more and more success befalls the business. Critical thinking skills are paramount here.

This could be anything from knowing that as an owner, you’ll one day need to hand over the reins to a sales manager, or recognizing you’ll need to build an in-house order fulfillment or accounting team rather than outsourcing these duties as you do currently.

It’s important to develop managers that will grow with your business, but you also need to identify the other gaps, so you can hire people who’re interested in being trained for, or already have experience in those roles as they become available.

Hire the right staff.

Of course, right? Isn’t that just the cornerstone of any business, after all? But we’re talking about hiring the right staff to fall into your succession plan here, so it isn’t about finding JUST a salesman or JUST a great administrator or warehouse employee, etc.

For instance, knowing that you’ll need a great sales manager you can rely on in the future means you should be asking the right questions during the hiring process; identifying people who have aspirations beyond meeting and exceeding sales quotas every month.

Find those who want to be a leader, to help a company and its employees grow. Just because someone is highly qualified and great at what they do doesn’t mean they have the kind of future aspirations required to fit into your succession plan once the wheels are put in motion.

Start to plot out the immediate growth areas and develop a training plan.

This applies to businesses of all sizes who want to grow quickly. Plot out a timeline of where and when you’ll need successors to take over and help facilitate growth in the company. Knowing when you’ll need them to move up (or laterally) will tell you how much time you have, so you can plan for their training and education — both time-wise and from a budget standpoint.

If it’s leaders you’ll need, you’ll need to start grooming them months, if not years in advance of their succession date. That means you’ll need set up a training schedule that’s amenable to both their desired work schedule, and the company’s current needs for them in their current position.

Perhaps you’ll need to hire someone to take over for them while they move into an assisting role with you and/or the current management team? Only you’ll know what’s best for your specific company. If you don’t, seek out the advice of an appropriate mentor or consultant.

Don’t hinge everything on your succession plan.

Plans change.

The person you identify as perfect for a given role may decide to move on — changing companies or even completely changing careers. You may find out along the way that they’re just not tough enough, talented enough, or that they lack the people skills for the position.

It’s also entirely possible that a current or future employee may prove to have more potential in one area or another than those you’ve already identified for succession. In that situation, you’ll have to have the business acumen and common sense to recognize these things and make the hard decision to change course for the betterment of the company.

Have a succession plan, but don’t be afraid to change it as needed!

Main Image Credit: Jim Hickcox/Flickr

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