“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Hans works for a multi-national company. He was recently put in charge of a department where 10% of the workforce left in the next two months. They either retired or moved to another job. This left Hans scrambling to find appropriate replacements.
After the positions were filled, Hans vowed to never let this happen again. He created a Succession Planning Procedure. These five steps made it easy for him to be proactive and prepared for any vacancy.
1. Identify Key Leadership Positions.
Hans identified those positions that were most critical. Which positions impacted the company’s core competencies the most? What were the risks if those positions went vacant? He drew up a list of vital positions.
Hans didn’t do this alone, he called in supervisors and HR to look at the job descriptions and assess them. What is the function? What responsibilities does this job have? What authority?
Then Hans prioritized the leadership positions from vital to minimal impact. “I considered the problems that would come if a job became vacant. And the learning curve for the replacement,” Hans said.
He factored in whether the current job holder was close to retirement. And he evaluated how marketable the employee was. Did he have family or life events that made it likely he might change jobs?
2. Assess skills and qualities needed for these leadership positions.
Next in Han’s succession planning procedure, he had a Position Profile created. What kind of education did this job need? What level of experience?
He listed the core competencies essential to succeed in the job. Did they need to be a team player? How vital was communication, innovation, or delegating responsibilities?
Within the Position Profile he listed the five essential competencies needed for each job along with other knowledge, skills, and desirable traits.
3. Evaluated current strength of potential leaders.
“I looked to see the depth of my bench,” Hans said. “How many employees on the sidelines are currently prepared to step into these jobs if needed?”
Hans looked over all his employees. Which ones had the skills sets necessary? Which ones might be groomed to be able to step up to the plate as they developed core leadership competencies? How long would that take? One year? Two years? More?
Hans created a working list of possible successors for each job and added it to his procedure.
4. Designed Career Development Strategies.
Hans started working on the best prospects. He first matched potential leaders with the job skills of the positions at greatest risk and with the highest level of company value.
He used the annual review time to discuss gaining the skills and competencies necessary to move up. And he helped the employees set appropriate career goals.
Hans worked with his team to choose appropriate career development activities for these key employees. These included participation in vital projects, cross training, course work, working with a mentor, self-study or reading assignments, coaching, work related conferences, and leadership development programs.
“I told employees that participation in these activities was part of the company’s succession planning,” Hans said. “But I made sure they understood it did not guarantee they would be promoted.”
5. Monitored and Evaluated Strategies.
Hans was determined not ever to be caught with a high priority talent gap again. He continued to monitor his succession planning procedure. He reviewed the data on promising employees.
He requested feedback on the annual reviews and suggested monthly reviews to make sure the career development activities were producing the desired results.
“Once we made it a priority,” Hans said, “our succession plan came about quite quickly. Already we’ve seen results. First, we have a stronger team.” He also felt the company would benefit with fewer vacancies, reduced time for new employees to get up to speed, and a general higher standard of workforce in his department.