Q&A: Succession planning could improve business

Q&A: Succession planning could improve business

Q. How do I go about putting a good succession plan in place?

A. If managed correctly, succession plans allow employers to transition workplace responsibilities smoothly from departing employees to able replacements within their workforce, helping maintain continuity and ensuring service levels remain high. 

To put a succession plan in place, employers must first devise an appropriate strategy. 

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It should outline a clear progression path for staff and feature the key objectives that you wish them to reach throughout their development.

While many choose to place emphasis on positions that are considered critical to the organisation and must be filled at all times, these can be introduced for a variety of positions, ranging from entry level up to senior management roles.

It may also be beneficial to hold informal meetings with affected staff to make them aware of your expectations and the opportunities available to them. 

Communicating with staff is important in encouraging them to buy in and take ownership of their career progression, further guaranteeing the success of any long-term succession plan. 

Once the initial groundwork has been laid, employees must receive appropriate training if they are to develop into future leaders within your organisation.

A development plan should be put in place to track and monitor staff progression, with those who show the most promise being gradually exposed to greater levels of responsibility.

The strength of a succession plan will also be affected by the structure of employee contracts, specifically the notice period that applies upon termination.

Longer notice periods will be more useful than shorter ones because internal replacements do not have to be rushed; promoted staff will have a greater opportunity to settle into their new role.

For this reason, employers tend to require an extended contractual notice period for those in more senior positions, thereby reducing the impact their departure has on the business. 

It is also important to ensure individuals are comfortable with taking on a new role before promoting them.

With this in mind, earlier efforts to train staff should not stop once they move into more senior positions and the best succession plans make sure to continue training staff throughout their careers. 

Above all, it is vital to understand that succession plans must be an ongoing process and not reactionary.

Once it is in place, a succession plan should always be kept up to date and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure it continues to serve the needs of the business.

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula