How to Achieve a Successful Succession Planning

The only thing constant in this world is change. Different industries go through changes differently but one thing is for sure: the changes are never-ending.

Changes are most evident among those companies with a fast-paced and dynamic work environment where people always come and go.

Those who would stay and endeavor to work hard enough will gradually make it up the career ladder. At some point, current managers or executives have to step out of the limelight and pass the torch to the next person.

Leadership successions happen every now and then which is why appropriate succession planning must be done.

However, only 35% of companies have formalized their succession planning process. 

In this article, we will dissect what we need to know about succession planning and how we can aim to conduct smooth transitions. 

What Is Succession Planning?

Succession planning involves owners and people in the top management team to identify and train potential people to take leadership positions. Through succession planning, the prospective leaders are nurtured to ensure a smooth transition of skills from one term to another. 

Succession planning enhances the internal and external aspects of the employees. To train them in being future leaders, trainers get to let them take down some key points that must be observed and exercised when they are about to embrace their new role in the company.

The Trainer’s Responsibilities in Succession Planning

Having established targets and proper communication in goal sharing is the key to the success of the succession planning process. 

Screening the employees who exhibit great responsibility and work ethics, recording several points that ensure transfer of knowledge applied in the duration of the succession planning process, managing the expectations of other employees so there will be no further rivalries, and providing them with an enriching experience will build a solid foundation to the potential leaders

To ensure that there is a smooth transition of power in the organization, there are several responsibilities that a trainer must fulfill in the duration of the succession planning process. 

Review the Company’s Mission, Vision, and Values

When conducting succession planning sessions, always put this step as one of the most essential undertakings in succession planning. 

Any employee who wants to lead well must be able to serve as instruments in attaining the company’s mission and vision and working out the company values. The objectives of both the leaders and employees must align with the organizational goals of the business.

A difficulty occurs when the goals are not clear and the company’s people fail to value what the organization stands for.

Study the Employee Handbook

The employee handbook contains information concerning the company’s policies and regulations that must be observed in the workplace. 

As trainers, your next responsibility in succession planning is to make sure that future leaders must always observe the provisions written in the employee handbook. 

Future leaders serve as role models for their subordinates. If they want to ensure that the work culture and ethics are preserved, future leaders must frequently abide by the guidelines set. 

If challenges and conflicts happen in the future, the company leaders are expected to address these matters objectively. Trainers in the entire succession planning must make sure they get to be careful among leaders in observing these provisions written in the employee handbook.

There are certain provisions that are role-specific so you can highlight that during training.

Consider the Different Departmental Needs

There are also work provisions that differ from one department to another. In this next responsibility, the trainers in the succession planning process must consider the different departmental needs. 

Tackle the job requirements, roles, and responsibilities unique to the department concerned. For instance, when training prospect leaders that belong in the finance department, make sure that you get to let them master the different proceedings involved in running the financial aspects of the business.

The succession planning must make sure that the training sessions infuse the different departmental needs so that these people get to handle departmental concerns and challenges seamlessly.

Identify Competencies and Behaviors

Aside from being transparent in letting them be informed of the target competencies and behaviors needed in the company, you also work together on developing these targets.

When making competencies and behaviors in the succession training, take note of the following qualities:

  1. Specific – The competencies should be concrete. Avoid ambiguities.
  2. Measurable – Identify tools that can measure the efficacy of the process.
  3. Observable – Competencies and behaviors should be easy to monitor so you can give frequent feedback and continually tailor your targets to the overall needs of the company.
  4. Feasible – The behaviors and competencies desired in succession planning should be time-sensitive and can be achieved within a certain time. This quality exercises the mastery of the leaders in executing a certain skill. 
  5. Attainable – The goals set must be realistic and achievable. Avoid goals that are too difficult or beyond the scope of the new role.
  6. Relevant – The competencies and behaviors must be aligned with the different risks, challenges, and conflicts that might happen in their future journey as a leader. You know they are relevant when they address concerns that matter to the people involved.
  7. Results-oriented – There needs to be a clear outline of results to be achieved with certain competencies so you can check the output based on the targets.
  8. Practical – Set goals that are applicable to the role.
  9. Multi-dimensional – In order to address multiple concerns, the competencies and behaviors expected of a potential leader must involve the different aspects of holding such leadership positions and not just focused on one key area. You can train your people on the core competencies, specific skills, and even include having a great mindset.

Coordinate With Focal Persons

Good succession planning needs different focal persons that will facilitate the training and transitions of the leaders, making sure they get to be prepared for the future tasks they might undertake in a certain department. 

Making sure that there is a smooth transition of leadership between the present and future ones, the trainer must execute a concrete plan that will assign different people who will spearhead the succession process.

You can assign focal persons to the following areas:

  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Tools and Resources
  • Actual Training
  • Evaluation and Performance Review

When having succession planning, make sure that you have a unified communication channel where the head trainer gets to trace the progress of the focal persons. 

You can make use of tools, or communication and learning management systems so that you can keep coordinating hassle-free.

Structure the Transition Process

Succession planning goes to waste when the transition process is not properly structured. 

Like a house, when there is no solid foundation, there will be a possibility that it can be destroyed in just a matter of a few challenges that test the structure of the house.

Same with the transition process, succession planning must lay down the proper procedure of the overall process. In terms of change management, make sure that you observe these steps as the present leaders slowly leave their respective leadership positions, and then let the next leaders undertake the role without experiencing a culture shock. 

  • Vet the candidates properly
  • Ensure a solid onboarding plan
  • Prepare a checklist for the transition
  • Document the steps taken

Trainers should invite the former manager or leader on a separate session where they get to collaboratively deliberate the necessary documents or processes to take. The key here is proper scheduling.

There should be a debriefing session for the former leaders or some sort of an exit plan, and a separate session that includes the new leaders as they are about to undertake a new set of responsibilities. 

Conduct a pilot test and ensure that there are regular training sessions that will have evaluation sessions in the first few months.

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