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What is succession planning?

April 8, 2020

Succession planning can be an awkward topic to discuss for any leadership team. However, it’s of vital importance to have a plan for succession to ensure the company keeps moving forward. 

Defined as “a strategy for passing on leadership roles” by Investopedia, succession planning is usually done for essential roles at the company such as the CEO or CFO. Yet, there is no reason that you can’t create one for any position that you have. 

Moreover, there are a number of ways to prepare your talent to take on new responsibilities within your organization. One of the most important tools you can use is mentorship. 

Importance of succession planning

With a large number of Baby Boomers expected to retire over the next few years, having a succession plan helps organizations retain knowledge and stay on course after high-level employees leave their jobs. 

It can also be costly and time-consuming to find and recruit top talent for key positions in your organization. Having a plan in place includes preparing current candidates to take over executive roles. This helps ensure they are prepared and your organization doesn’t suffer if a vital employee leaves their job earlier than expected. 

How succession planning works

Planning for a succession of roles is an on-going process. Your organization should review its succession plan at least once a year. It’s important to make adjustments whenever there is a change in the company. This includes a new company focus or direction. 

To prepare a good succession plan, there is a process that many companies can follow to ensure they take all the steps necessary to prepare for future departures from the organization. The first part of the process includes assessments of all key roles at the company. You want to have a list of those positions that are essential to the growth and success of your organization. 

Once you know what roles you will need to fill at some point in the future, it’s time to start identifying potential candidates. These can be employees who are currently with your company as well as external talent that you are trying to recruit. 

Lastly, you’ll need to develop a formalized training plan to ensure those employees who are expected to take over will be prepared for their new responsibilities. This can include opportunities like workshops, professional courses and mentorship. 

Advantages for employers

Having a succession plan in place can be an advantage for employers in several ways including:

  • Being prepared for future change, as well as emergency succession scenarios
  • Cultivating the talent within your organization, which can improve employee engagement levels
  • Actively recruiting top talent with an eye on the future
  • A united workplace where vision and values are shared
  • Retain organizational knowledge
  • Peace of mind for shareholders who will feel confident investing in a company with a strong succession plan

Advantages for employees

There are also several benefits for employees who work at a company with a succession plan. These include:

  • Potential for advancement creates higher engagement and job satisfaction levels 
  • Opportunities for training and career development for those being groomed for succession
  • Strong mentorship culture that allows mentees to gain knowledge and experience from company mentors

Succession planning and mentoring

Many tools are available for companies looking to develop a succession plan. However, it’s vital not to overlook mentoring as a strong succession tool. Workplace mentoring programs are one of the best ways to train potential successors. Pairing a qualified candidate with a mentor offers an opportunity for in-depth training and information sharing that can be essential in preparing the mentee for new responsibilities. 

Preparing for the future

Although some organizations may feel the discussion of succession is too awkward to bring up during meetings, it’s vital the company has a plan for the inevitable. The sooner you are able to develop your succession strategy the better your company will be prepared for the future. 

Identify the key roles that you will need to fill so your organization stays on track. Then identify potential candidates to fill those roles and start preparing them with training, which should include mentorship. 

Find out more about how mentoring software can help you build a successful succession plan for your organization by contacting Together today

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