The Surprising Steps to More Effective Succession Planning

November 09, 2018

When was the last time your leadership team had a discussion about succession planning?

For many organizations, the idea of succession planning is easy to sell: after all, the idea of planning ahead and ensuring that there is a clearly-defined plan in place for when senior leadership retires or leaves the organization should be a priority for any business.

However, just because an idea is easy to sell doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement, especially because senior leaders have many competing priorities. As a result, succession planning not only requires buy-in from key stakeholders, but also ongoing strategic planning to achieve milestones, and ensure that everyone involved understands the vision.

What are some of the steps to developing a strong succession plan?

Start By Developing Key Metrics

Key metrics will vary by organization, but asking your leaders to begin by examining a list of potential key performance indicators (KPIs) will help keep the process on track. Some examples include:

  • The number of successors for critical positions.
  • The number of successors who are “ready now.”
  • How many “high potential” successors are available.
  • Potential for success in a new position.
  • The course of promotions needed within a succession plan.

By involving the C-suite at this level you can gain buy-in from the executives who will play a pivotal role in their own succession planning, and clearly identify individuals they feel are best suited to eventually succeed them in their role.

Make sure to spend time discussing the promotional plans and any additional training needed with key stakeholders before implementing your plan.

Take the time to develop individualized talent development plans for each potential successor; don’t take a “one size fits all” approach.

Have career conversations and ensure the right people are trained the right way and that their needs and personal motivations and challenges are considered.

Conduct assessments to help create individual development plans.  We use EQ-i2.0 and Change Style Indicator® to identify areas of development.

Always Make Communication the Top Priority

As talent management professionals, we need to guide our organizations and their leaders, and to help them connect the dots between desired business outcomes and the successful results of a well-executed succession plan.

One way to accomplish this goal is to demonstrate that talent development isn’t an additional responsibility, or even a new one. After all, the most effective leaders are those who take the time to develop their employees and train staff by assigning challenging projects and by providing ongoing feedback and performance management.

One of the best ways to demonstrate the value in talent development is to quantify the cost of turnover. For example, studies have shown that that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average.

Not only does succession planning yield long-term ROI in terms of cost savings, but ongoing talent management offers opportunities for discussion and insight into executives leading and managing their teams.

For example, ask your executives and C-suite leaders to observe how their teams perform, and to record answers to the following questions:

  • How well do they know their business requirements?
  • How forward thinking and strategic are they?
  • How connected are they to their team?

Develop metrics and measures of success which make sense for your organization. This will allow leaders who may have been hesitant to engage in succession planning see both the long-term and short-term benefits by tracking trends over time.

Be Patient

If you’re like most talent experts, your organization’s leadership will likely take time to warm to a focused approach to succession planning. This is what makes constant communication such a pivotal part of this process.

By taking every opportunity to reinforce the value of succession planning as it impacts your organization’s business outcomes you can convey the value of proactive planning to the C-suite.

For more information about how assessments can support your succession planning efforts contact us about receiving your Change Style Indicator® and Change Navigator® Certification or EQ-i2.0 & EQ360 Certification. For more actionable news and resources, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.