Effective Succession Planning is like an Insurance Policy; it can protect you if and when something changes or “goes wrong,” such as when an employee unexpectedly resigns from his or her position, gets promoted or is out for an indeterminate period of time. Having a Succession Plan in place ensures that the Company will continue to operate with minimal disruption and, more importantly, provides for a smooth, seamless transition for other staff.
Most Companies with robust Human Resources and Training Departments have Corporate Succession Plans built into their Organization structure. Small- and mid-sized Companies, however, typically do not have such vast resources for unknown future succession; still, they must prepare their employees for advancement and for other changes that might compromise productivity and client retention.
An effective Succession Plan that is carefully considered and structured will help you to accomplish the following:
Employees will be more engaged in their jobs if they see you are providing opportunities for career advancement. This is true for employees at all levels in the Company, not limited to those at the “top.” In fact, job growth and development is highly sought after by the largest demographic in the American workforce: Millennials. (Millennials Want Jobs to be Development Opportunities: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/193274/millennials-jobs-development-opportunities.aspx)
Ensure Optimal Staffing
Cross-training employees is integral to your Company’s Succession Planning. This means having staff already prepared with appropriate skills and knowledge to move into another position without experiencing decreased productivity. Cross-training also reduces the likelihood of spending additional money to recruit and hire new employees.
Provide for Better Customer Satisfaction and Retention
All Companies experience natural attrition in their employee pool. Attrition at an uncontrollable level carries the risk of decreased quality of service including the “hands-on” attention to a client’s needs. Having a trained employee ready to step in and assume the responsibilities of the position ensures for a smooth and stress free transition for everyone.
Has your Company established a comprehensive Succession Plan for your employees?
Congratulations if you answered “yes” but don’t worry if your honest answer was “no.” You can start to create your Succession Plan right now by following these four actions steps:
1. Determine the long-term goals of your organization.
What is the direction in which you see your business moving; how do you plan to get there? Your vision for the future of your Company will help you to create, fill, and develop the necessary positions required to fulfill your long-term goals.
2. Assess your employees in order to determine current skillsets.
Department Supervisors and Managers are central to monitoring the career plans for their direct reports. They must be able to evaluate employees’ individual skillsets in order to create the direction and plan for future opportunities and growth.
3. Maintain open lines of communication with employees.
Your employees must be part of the Succession Planning process, and you must seek their “buy-in” to the planned advancement as well as training required. While you may assume that all of your employees are seeking advancement within your Company, there may be an outlier that would prefer to remain in the same position without much change.
4. Create a comprehensive Company Skills Training Program for all positions.
All employees should participate in an initial skills training when they begin working for your Company. They should also be engaged in reinforcement training throughout their tenure. By creating a thorough Skills Training Program in each Department, you can ensure there will be smooth transitions for employees who advance from one Department to another and for employees that progress within the Department itself. Comprehensive skills training will also guarantee less disruption when a replacement is brought in to fill an empty position, regardless of whether the replacement is an existing employee or is brought in from the outside.
Perhaps what is most important is that employees must know there is upward mobility within the Company so that they strive to do better and maintain their satisfaction with the Company. Motivated, happy employees will help you to achieve the vision and goals you have created for your Company.