Best practices for succession planning

Succession planning concerns identifying and training up internal candidates that could step into a business role after an employee departs or retires. As there is no longer a default retirement age, planning for someone’s retirement or departure has become more complicated and requires a little extra tact and care in handling.

Yet despite this, two thirds of small to medium sized companies have no succession planning in place according to Aldermore’s latest Future Attitudes report. So how do you successfully implement succession planning? Here is a guide.

Prepare as early as possible

Prepare as early as possible

One of the greatest pitfalls of succession planning is the habit of ignoring it until it’s too late. It’s tempting to put off making preparations until you absolutely have to, but sometimes departures can be very unexpected. To avoid being left in the lurch you should start planning early - even up to five years before you think someone may leave.

Identify replacements

Identify replacements

Succession planning is all about identifying which employees may be well-suited to step into vacated senior positions as they arise. This involves regularly reviewing talent in the office as well as highlighting positions that might be becoming available soon. Have a discussion with senior staff about who might make a good fit for certain positions.

For a CIO position, this could be an individual who combines strong leadership skills with IT and business acumen. Common replacements come from Director of IT roles or sometimes move horizontally from CTO positions.

Mentor potentials

Mentor potentials

Put time and effort into cultivating the skills of workers who may be suitable to take on senior roles. This is best not framed explicitly as such to avoid any possible offence or developing expectations, but can be done subtly, in the form of offering the employee more opportunities and responsibility.

This could include involving them in high profile internal or client facing IT projects and increasing their number of direct reports.

Don’t assume

Don’t assume

Avoid making assumptions about what older employees want or plan to do. This will inevitably lead to misunderstandings and reproach. Instead, have open and honest conversations about what workers want. For those approaching retirement age, make sure you have had a discussion about their feelings towards this.

Think about handover

Think about handover

This phase should ideally be handled as smoothly as possible. Think about how to achieve this. Can the departing staff member coach the entrant for a period of months in the role before leaving? Are they able to remain a point of contact if the new appointee is struggling with anything? Working these things out ahead of time will ease the whole process.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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