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There are several excuses you may use to avoid having to succession plan – but it is a business-critical process.

What is succession planning, and why should you do it in your business?

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing key employees, ensuring there are always people on-hand to fill these roles in the face of employee shortages, resignations, or long-term absences.

They also act as a tool for assessing your team and recognising areas for growth and development.

A succession plan will reduce the stress of finding replacements and give you the opportunity to effectively offboard your leaver and prioritise their exit experience. This will minimise disruption in the workplace and allow for a smooth handover process.

You should complete succession plans for crucial team members and regularly update them, referring to them when it comes to your team’s training and development.

We outline seven steps you can take to effectively instil succession planning within your business:

1. Identify key roles

Look at all the roles within your team and identify those you feel may need a plan. Some managers choose to plan for the whole team, but at least you should plan for the more senior, leadership roles.

2. Create role profiles

It is important to understand what each role in your team involves on a day-to-day basis, as well as the knowledge, capabilities, and attributes needed to succeed in the position.

3. Identify potential successors

You can use our talent matrix to identify the potential successors who you feel need a succession plan. By having a clear understanding of your employees’ knowledge and skills, you can identify who could be suitable to step into someone’s shoes. Refer to Step 1 and Step 2 in this process and identify who has the talent needed for the role and their skills gaps.

You might want to identify who would be emergency cover for a role, who would be ready in the short term, and who could be a replacement in the long term.

4. Assess, assess, assess

Utilising our talent matrix will allow you to assess your employees based on their past performance and future potential.

Not all members of the team will be ‘high performance, high potential’ employees, but this matrix will identify areas for growth and development. It will provide you with an overview of your employees and allow you to identify potential successors and the areas they can improve on.

5. Strategic development

By this stage, you should have effectively assessed the performance and potential of your employees, and identified their skills, knowledge capabilities, and gaps. The next stage is to develop a succession strategy to ensure that they are armed with the relevant skills.

6. Implement your strategy

Once you have identified how to develop your employees, you need to implement these strategies with specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) objectives, which you can measure and track performance within a time frame.

7. Analyse and evaluate

As with any strategy, regularly evaluate its effectiveness against your SMART objectives. Make sure you are flexible with your approach, as you may need to adjust objectives for unexpected events and situations or add additional ones that may arise.

To help effectively plan for succession, download our talent matrix.