Succession Planning for 2024: It’s Not Just for Emergencies — It’s a Leadership Development Strategy

For many organizations, succession planning is primarily aimed at filling an immediate, unexpected vacancy. That’s great for emergencies, but to be strategic, your organization needs to shift from a reactive to a proactive posture. 

Developing a strategy and process for training and building leaders within your business will empower your current employees and ensure that your company is equipped when a transition occurs. Here are some tips to get you started.

Benefits of Succession Planning

Change is inevitable in any business. Planning for change delivers benefits to your organization as well as your employees. Here are just some of the benefits of succession planning.

Sustains the Business

First, succession planning will ensure that you have a smooth leadership transition. Your senior leaders set the tone for the entire organization. Planning for a transition will provide continuity for your core operations and preserve the values and beliefs that define your company culture.

Develops High-Potential Employees

HR professionals can work to create a leadership pipeline by developing high-potential employees who are already within the organization. That way, when a vacancy opens, you have hard-working individuals available and prepared with the competency to take on a leadership role. And by hiring within, you’ll have a greater chance to hire those who will maintain your company’s core values.

Attracts and Retains Talent

A company with a clear leadership pipeline will find it easier to attract and retain key employees. According to one recent survey, 84% of employees are looking for leadership and development opportunities in their workplace. Offering these non-monetary benefits will improve your recruitment and retention rates and help you maintain a healthy headcount.

How to Develop a Succession Plan

How can businesses think strategically about their succession plan? HR professionals can develop a clear plan by taking the following approach.

Identify Key Positions

What are the most critical roles in your business? Larger organizations may have an entire C-suite of professionals, including the CEO, COO, and CFO. But even small businesses may have a collection of leaders and managers that are essential for your core operations. Identifying these positions will make it easier to plan for a future transition.

Assess Your Talent Pool

Next, think about how you might match your current workforce with these key roles. Who has the potential to fill those roles? Remember, the average time to fill a role is 36 days. Hiring from within gives you the advantage of a shorter hiring cycle, and it also gives you an opportunity to create a development plan for your high-performing staff members.

Develop Your High Potentials

After assessing your talent pool, you can start to work with potential candidates. HR professionals can take the lead in this process by conducting performance reviews, creating individual development plans, and providing coaching and mentorship. At this point, your goal will be to cultivate the skills and characteristics that the employee needs to thrive in a leadership role.

Get Everyone Involved

HR professionals can get everyone involved to support the program. Current leaders can work to create up-to-date job descriptions as well as identify the soft skills needed for that position. You can also work to “market” your program within your organization, providing a clear on-ramp for employees who may be interested in this leadership development pipeline.

Creating a Successful Program

What can HR professionals do to improve the success of a leadership program? Here are some tips you can use to ensure an effective program within your organization.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Start by setting clear, measurable goals for your leadership pipeline. These goals can later be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your program, and they will also keep you focused on what you hope to achieve. 

For instance, you might make it a goal to have 10 participants in the program over the course of the next year, or you might try to increase the number of internal hires by 15%.

Allocate Budget and Resources

Every year, global businesses spend $61 billion on leadership development resources. In order for your leadership program to thrive, you’ll need to allocate these resources effectively. Carve out a portion of your budget and invest in leadership training materials, or pay for seminars and workshops that can augment your current workforce.

Track Progress and Measure Success

If you set clear goals, you can easily track your progress over time. Are you gaining interest in the program? Is your program delivering individuals who can fill your key leadership roles? Tracking your progress will also require you to make adjustments to the program to keep individuals moving toward those leadership goals.

Get the Support You Need

Focus HR understands the challenges of transition planning. That’s why we offer customized support to help you achieve your strategic goals. If you need HR advice for your small business, contact our team today.

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