Building a Succession Plan

Building a Succession Plan

March 31, 2021
Shari Steinbach
Business Skills

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

You or a team member may have your sights set on moving to a new position or even changing companies at some point, but have you given thought to what may happen to your positions if one of you left? Having a solid succession plan in place is an important step to ensure you are prepared for such possibilities. The plan will help you identify and develop the right person that could be prepared and ready for advancement into a new role. Here are 5 steps for building your succession plan:

Step 1 – Create a strategy. Some team member changes are known in advance, like in the case of a retirement. However, you could be caught off-guard by a sudden departure that leaves your team scrambling. To keep projects and programs running smoothly, and to showcase your management skills, you should have a succession plan in place. To begin with, think about the impact of key positions on your team and how programming would be affected if individuals left those positions.

Step 2 – Select succession candidates. Once you understand how the departure of certain employees could impact your department, seek out individuals who could potentially step into those positions. Identify the skills needed for certain jobs and look for the strongest candidates. Look for people who display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title. When making a succession plan for your team, be sure to include your own position. 

Step 3 – Talk to individuals. Have a meeting with those employees you have identified for potentially moving into certain positions. Let them know that they’re being singled out for key roles of increasing importance and although there are no guarantees, you want to explore the possibilities. Make sure to ask about how they view their professional future before making any final choices. 

Step 4 – Plan for professional development. Chances are even your best candidates might need some additional training. Evaluate where gaps may be and lay out a development plan. Job rotation is a good way to help individuals increase their skills and experience. You can also connect them with mentors who can assist with improving important skills such as communication and diplomacy. Make sure to include new professional development goals into your candidate’s performance review to measure progress.

STEP 5 – Evaluate your plan. Continue to evaluate and monitor your succession plan to ensure all key positions are covered and that newly filled positions are functioning well. Remember that succession planning is an important part of managing your team’s talent. A successful plan will allow you to fill job openings quickly and will reduce the costs and time needed for outside recruitment.