How to Create a Succession Plan

When high-level personnel and executives leave your company, it leaves a gap that needs to be filled. To make sure your organization fills those gaps without disrupting your processes, you’ll need a succession plan.

What Is a Succession Plan?

A succession plan is a strategy for making sure key positions are filled when skilled, experienced, or otherwise crucial people leave your organization or otherwise leave positions vacant. It identifies ways to prepare people to fill the gaps left behind.

Steps to Creating a Succession Plan

Creating a succession plan is a process, and it will take some work. However, it’s definitely manageable with the following steps.

1. Identify your goals

First off, you want to identify your goals. Answering these questions can help you develop a goal for your succession planning:

  • Do you plan to replace people when they retire or pass on?
  • Are you trying to maintain continuity for when people get sick or otherwise aren’t able to make it to work?
  • Are there future roles that may develop that you’ll need to plan to fill?

2. Build a team

Next up, you’ll want to create a succession planning team. The team should consist of people who are aware of the kinds of skill-sets and abilities your business processes require and who know something about what it takes to develop those abilities. It also helps if they collectively have connections with departments throughout your organization.

3. Identify roles that will need filling

Next, you’ll need to identify the roles that need to be filled. Those may include:

  • Current executive and leadership roles
  • Important roles within business processes
  • Roles that may become necessary as your market evolves

The idea is to look forward at what might happen if a given position should be left empty and choose the most critical ones first.

4. Find ways to fill those positions

Once you know the roles you’ll need to fill, find ways that you can fill those positions. Some common options include:

  • Current employees
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Online job boards
  • Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Industry-specific organizations and partnerships
  • Professional referrals from your own personnel

The best plans usually take a multi-pronged approach, drawing from multiple sources to find the right people to meet your business’s professional needs.

5. Create actionable plans

Once you know what you need and where to start looking, create a plan with specific actions to take. In particular, develop specific hiring, training, and development practices, and outline who will do what and how.

6. Put it into action

Once you have your plan together, put it into action. Check in to see how things are going with it as well and make adjustments as needed.

Additional Succession Planning Tips

In addition to the above steps, these tips can help as well:

  • Keep an open mind about where promising candidates can come from.
  • Align your plan with your overall business strategy. It’ll likely go nowhere if you don’t.
  • Let your organization know about your plan.
  • Be involved in the process.
  • Be fair as you seek candidates to avoid violation of employment laws.

Outside counsel—such as the attorneys at Hart David Carson LLP—can help you with many aspects of succession planning, including policy-making and legal adherence.

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