July 23, 2021 | 5 min read
Succession Planning: A Key Strategy For Employee Development


Change is inevitable; between evolving workplace trends, employee expectations, and unexpected circumstances, companies need to pivot  in several ways to maintain their competitive edge. Part of preparing your company for change involves knowing who will lead your company in the future. In other words, you need an effective succession planning strategy in place.

Succession planning has always been important to an organization’s current and future success, but today it matters even more. From the C-Suite to mid-level management, high turnover is a major challenge for companies of all sizes. Without the right people in place to step in or get promoted to take over higher-level responsibilities, overall productivity and team morale can slump.

This lack of succession planning can lead to even higher levels of turnover. When professionals don’t feel as though they are able to move up within the organization, they often wind up having no choice but to leave. On the other hand, helping employees visualize opportunities for advancement can make all the difference.  Succession planning communicates your commitment to their career and future success. This can lead to greater employee engagement and loyalty—helping you cultivate a larger, more flexible talent pool from within. Here’s your guide to getting started:

Identify motivated employees

To build the next generation of company leaders, start by identifying your high-potential employees. These professionals should not only be top performers in their departments, but also have the personality traits indicative of a great leader. This means they should be adaptable, self-aware, and great problem solvers.

Assess critical skills gaps within key positions

Utilize your organizational chart to identify who your key players are within different areas of the company. Ask yourself: if any of them were to leave, who would be there to take their place? If you can’t really pinpoint any employee who has the skills and experience to step in without disrupting productivity or a steep learning curve, you have just identified a critical skills gap within the team. Succession planning for these key roles can help you better cope with sudden team changes throughout the company; not just at the executive-level.

Create individualized training plans

Once you have identified your high-potential employees, focus on developing the skills and experience they need to be able to fill key roles within the organization. First evaluate each employee to determine which roles they have the potential to grow into, and then create personalized training plans to ensure they are ready to step in when the time comes.

Communicate your vision

For succession planning to be effective, you need to determine how to keep your employees motivated and engaged. Rather than limiting feedback to annual reviews, managers need to focus on maintaining ongoing conversations about performance and career development opportunities with their teams. This additional support is especially important to younger employees, who are eager to learn and grow. As a result, succession planning should be a firm-wide initiative; one in which each department is responsible for empowering their staff to advance within the organization, even if that means in a different area of the company.

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