High-performing organizations intentionally plan for leader transitions. Rather than being surprised by a leader’s retirement, departure, or promotion, sustainable systems plan for and develop the next leaders who can move into roles smoothly to maintain organizational momentum. Succession planning consists of three important components: defining a position profile, identifying potential successors (inside and outside of the organization), and then planning and implementing professional learning opportunities for successors to ready them for these key opportunities.
RETENTION & PROGRESSION
Succession planning is the intentional practice of considering what’s needed for key leadership roles, who might have or be most able to acquire the important skills, knowledge, and characteristics of a position profile, and then executing on a plan to ready our next leaders for their future positions. Two key outcomes of succession planning are most important.
First, effective planning for a transition from one leader to the next enables the system to continue progress with the least impact from a change and provides security for employees who can know that there is a plan for what happens when a key person leaves. By reducing employee anxiety, we maintain productivity and momentum through changes in leadership.
Second, succession planning is a highly effective retention strategy. By identifying high performing next level leaders, communicating the future roles you envision for them, and investing in their development for successful promotion and career advancement, you give these “irreplaceables” every reason to stay with your organization.
SUCCESSION PLANNING IN 3 STEPS
There are key actions for each of the three components of the succession planning process:
Define the position profile.
- Leaders can record the background knowledge, technical skills, and characteristics (organized, engages with people) that would define a “best fit” with the position.
- It can be helpful to refer to a job description for key responsibilities of the position, and to consider what personal characteristics would make the person in this role most successful.