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5 Ways to Promote Successful Succession Planning

The C-suite is typically the first segment of the organization that comes to mind when you think about succession planning. But many roles outside of leadership positions are crucial to your business’s leadership continuity—affecting the company’s growth and success.
 
Just think about your IT manager. He keeps your networks running so your business can function. He makes sure all of your employees have the equipment they need to do their jobs. If he leaves, your company is sure to run into technical issues that impact productivity and revenue.
 
This is why you need a succession plan for all critical roles, regardless of where they fall on the organizational chart. Companies often assume the answer is to simply hire a new employee for the role. But according to Workable, it takes up to two months to fill key roles, depending on the specific role and location. Plus, recruiting a new employee costs significantly more money than it does to promote from within: a Society for Human Resource Management report estimates the average cost to hire a new employee is about $4,000.
 
Here are five ways to achieve key-role continuity through succession planning:
 
1.     Identify key roles (and the skills needed for each role): While it may seem obvious which roles at your company are considered “key,” there are many roles that impact your company’s ability to function that might fly under the radar. That is, until the desk is empty. Create a cross departmental team to go through your organizational chart and determine which positions are critical. The next step is to catalog the skills and experience necessary to successfully fill each of those roles.
 
2.     Create a written succession plan for each key position. Have company leaders create a written succession plan for every critical role in their division or department. This document should detail actions taken to mentor and identify employees likely to move into these positions. By identifying skill gaps early and documenting the plans to provide training and experience to fill these gaps, your company is more apt to have someone ready to step into the role when it becomes vacant.
 
3.     Communicate standard career paths and qualifications for key positions. After the key roles are identified, create typical career paths from entry level to leadership for different roles. Determine the experience, training and skills needed to move up to the next role. This is much more than a simple job description; it provides a guide on how to get to each level. Because all employees have access to this information, this creates transparency and helps engage newer employees.
 
4.     Create personalized career paths for each employee. Not every employee wants to follow the typical path. One employee may want to go part-time for several years to care for an aging parent, while another decides to move to a totally different role, such as from IT to Human Resources. During their annual review, have each employee work with their supervisor to chart their future with the company and discuss their personal goals. Together they should create a plan, such as leadership training or special projects, that will help each employee move up the ladder.
 
5.     Identify and mentor high-performing employees. While all employees should feel in charge of their careers, it’s important to target employees who will likely fill key roles to ensure they receive leadership development and are on track to step into higher positions.
 
While the CEO leaving makes the headlines, your facility manager retiring with no one to take her place can affect the day-to-day productivity of all your employees. By creating a culture of succession throughout your entire organization, you can increase retention and reduce the chances of being left with an empty position that’s crucial to your company’s success.
 
 
Want to learn more about how to develop your employees for key-role continuity? Find out how our succession planning tools can help.