7 Steps to Successful Succession Planning

Succession planning is something that every firm must plan as it is a very crucial decision upon which the future of the firm depends. Correctly executed succession planning can help the firm to achieve its business goals whereas an incorrect one can serve as the firm’s most dreaded nightmare. So, careful implementation of succession planning is one of the key pillars on which the firm’s future resides and thus should be treated as number one on the priority list. However small any organization is, it will not work if it is not equipped with the right skilled people at the right positions and they do not upskill themselves with the changing times.

What is succession planning?

Whenever there is a vacancy at a key job position in the firm, maybe because the employee left for better job opportunities, retired, transferred, promoted, or passed away, then that key position needs to be filled on an urgent basis. This is where succession planning is required. It is a strategy of passing on the positions of leadership to the new person who will be stepping into the shoes of his/her predecessor. This leadership position pertains to any job role in the firm, not limited to only the top-most positions. It also entails the strategy of passing down the ownership of the company to an individual or a group of individuals. It is kind of a contingent plan that every firm must have in place, to keep up with uncertainties and help keep their business afloat.

An empty position in any firm cannot stay like that for a long time as it is a loss-making proposition for the firm itself. So, the new person that would take up the position, can either be someone from the firm itself, making his/her way up the ladder, or the company can hire some fresh talent to bring into a new perspective for the job role. After identifying the key leaders, the firm must groom the talent according to the job profile so that it can perform according to requirements.

What are some of the benefits of succession planning?

Succession planning is an act of carefully strategizing for the future, requires lots of work and thus it is an important task at hand. Benefits of this process are:

  • It helps in keeping the employees motivated by keeping the avenues open for them for career progression.
  • The generation of baby boomers is at a stage of retirement and soon a huge number of vacancies are going to crop up, so new leaders are required who can succeed them.
  • This helps the firm’s management to keep a close track of its employees’ work so that the correct person can be called up for the leadership position as and when required, thus helping in identifying the correct leaders.
  • Internal succession planning also aids in the reduction of hiring costs.
  • Helps the company in making a long-term strategy.
  • It also helps the firm to track the correct time and need for corporate knowledge transfer amongst peers.
  • Helps to make the employees more agile and adaptive to continuously changing requirements and thus upskill themselves continuously.
  • It also helps in maintaining the brand identity by grooming an internal talent for the leadership role rather than hiring new talent from outside.
  • Helps in providing correct guidance to the employees from the beginning by assigning them, mentors.
  • Helps the leaders and the employees to share the firm’s values and mission.
  • External succession planning helps to bring fresh ideas, new networks, additional skills, and knowledge.
  • A well-thought succession plan also helps build the investor’s confidence in the company.

How to do succession planning?

Succession planning is a well-thought process and it has been divided into 7 crucial steps. These are:

STEP 1 : Identification of key job positions and skills

As a firm, taking a deep look into the business model and identifying the job positions that are essential for the company’s performance and the skills that are required for each of the job positions, is the most crucial step and thus forms the base on which the entire succession planning depends.

STEP 2 : Identification of company’s need both long-term and short-term

After identifying the key positions, the next that the firm must look at is which of the identified job positions are vacant or soon-to-empty in near future, so that selection and grooming of employees according to the job role can be done.

STEP 3 : Start screening for potential candidates in case of an internal hire

Scanning the workforce for a suitable candidate to be the successor, by carefully evaluating the employees, should be done as promoting an employee would involve less work and cost as the employee will already be comfortable with the company’s workings, values, and missions and thus will be able to fit the position much easily after training.

STEP 4 : Start the recruitment process

If an internal hire is not a feasible option for the job position, then fresh talent needs to be hired from outside and has to undergo the entire recruitment process and training. 

STEP 5 : Appoint the new candidate as the “Successor”

After going through the tedious process of screening, interviewing, case studies, and many more, the firm finally decides upon a candidate that has been chosen as the successor for a particular job role. Ensuring that the candidate is a good fit for the company both cultural and technical is a very crucial task.

STEP 6 : Handing over the job

The process of handing over the job is the most important step in succession planning. It serves as the manifestation of all the hopes, skills, and knowledge of the chosen one into the practical field. This is the stage where the successor steps into the new shoes and has on-the-job learning from the peers, team leads, and predecessor. The handover period must not be too long or short so that neither the successor is half-baked nor he/she is not being able to get out of the shadow of the predecessor.

STEP 7 : Documenting the entire transaction

Documenting the entire procedure is important for future succession planning to go on smoothly without any hiccups. The documentation must include the skills, knowledge, demands from the candidate for the particular position, the entire hiring process, the training provided, and the issues that cropped up in between the entire process.

Succession planning is required by every company to keep their business running. It is the job of HR to keep the succession planning documents handy and always be on the lookout so that the firm does not shift behind in this continuous race of hiring and retaining new talent. Both the internal and external hire for succession planning has their pros and cons. So, what do you think, which source of succession planning is better?

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