7 steps to building a succession plan

building a succession plan

Creating a succession plan involves identifying and training high-potential employees for key management roles. It’s a critical but often overlooked process. Having a succession plan in place means that the sudden departure of a leader is a manageable event — not a major organisational crisis.

Here are seven steps you can take to kick-start your succession planning:

1. Be proactive in your succession planning

It can take time to find and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role. As such, don’t dawdle. Even if you don’t think you’ll need a replacement in the near future, prepping someone to assume an important role creates an invaluable safety net.

2. Keep an open mind 

While the obvious successor may be the second in command, don’t disregard other promising employees. Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in the position regardless of their current title.

3. Make the vision known

Include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the organisation and its objectives.

4. Offer regular feedback to protégés

When the employee nails a presentation or outperforms on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens. Diligently chronicling strong work will also come in handy during annual reviews.

5. Provide training to peak performers 

As you identify your top performers, offer training and mentoring to help them develop new skills and refine existing ones. Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen, but also strong soft skills, including standout verbal and written communication abilities, as well as tact and diplomacy.

6. Do a trial run

A vacation is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume some responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.

7. Use your succession plan to develop a hiring strategy

Once you’ve identified internal employees as successors for key roles in your organisation, take note of any talent gaps. In this way, a succession plan can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.

As you make your own plans to move up the ranks, bear in mind you’ll need a successor who’s enthusiastic about being the boss. By beginning to develop a succession plan and identifying potential future leaders, you help employees feel valued for their contributions and eager to realise their potential within the company.

This article originally appeared as 7 steps to building a succession plan on the Robert Half Accountemps blog.

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