How to Boost Your Odds of Successful Succession Planning
When it comes to succession planning, there are numerous reasons why leaders tend to put it off or not do it period. Whether it’s because they’re too busy with other priorities, don’t see the benefit, or simply have concerns around hiring successors in general, these really are all just excuses that can jeopardize a company’s future. In fact, “for any size organization and particularly one that’s growing, succession planning is important to the sustainability of the business,” says MAP Senior Consultant Cassie Hoag. “Your responsibilities may become more specialized or you may want to exit the business—whatever the case may be, at some point, you will need someone to fill your shoes.” Being proactive about this leadership practice boosts the odds for a more successful successor, a smoother transition, and better long-term outcomes for your business. Ultimately, this job activity goes hand in hand with being a responsible, respectful leader.
Here are some proven MAP strategies to support your succession-planning process:
1. Stay On The Lookout
It’s wise for top executives to keep their eyes and ears always open to potential successors both within and beyond their organization. As a general rule, it’s smart to first look within as it’s usually more cost-effective to train and develop a current hire than to go searching and onboarding someone totally new. That said, when hiring someone new, savvy leaders should do so with succession in mind, Hoag says. Choose candidates whose skills and talents align with the organization’s goals and the culture it wishes to nurture in the future.
2. Support Potential Successors With Individual Development Plans (IDPs)
“Succession can be very stimulating for employees if they’re interested in advancing,” Hoag says, noting that IDPs can be a tool to help them achieve this career goal. Different from annual performance reviews, IDPs tend to go deep, exploring short and long-term goals tied to both professional and even personal development. This tool gives managers or other aspiring successors an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. It helps them identify aspirations, interests and passions, and also can be a springboard for strategic goal setting relative to their careers, not just their immediate position within an organization. With potential successors, IDPs should be revisited monthly to ensure accountability, measure goal achievement, and/or support them in taking corrective action if needed.
3. Delegate To Potential Candidates
One of the best ways to help develop possible, suitable successors is to give them in-the-trenches experience doing what you do, according to Hoag. In particular, if you’ve identified opportunities for them to improve in certain areas of leadership, respect their time and current responsibilities but then empower them with experiences and duties that can challenge them to improve and grow as leaders. Remember, as an executive who truly cares about the future of your company, you want the person filling your shoes to be the very best fit and truly grasp the role and expectations of your job. The best way to ensure this happens is to expose these possible candidates to the realities of what you do, then give them the chance to practice.
What concerns or worries do you have around developing a potential successor for your business?