Anatomy of … a Succession Plan

Who’s Next?

Making sure you have a pipeline of diverse talent who will be ready to replace your current leaders when they retire or leave for new roles sets up your organization for future success. Here’s what you need to create a succession plan that works.

A comprehensive strategy. Identify key leadership roles and other positions your organization would have a hard time filling if they were to open up. Also note high-ranking employees who are nearing retirement age or voicing plans to retire.

A diverse list of succession candidates. Start identifying employees within the organization who are prime for advancement. Consult with leaders throughout the organization, affinity groups, and other stakeholders to ensure that the list includes representation from different genders, races, ethnicities, ages, and cultural backgrounds.

A conversation with the candidates. Let the candidates you’ve identified know that they are being considered for greater opportunities within the company. While you’re not promising them a particular job, you are letting them know the organization recognizes their talent and has plans to reward it. This conversation may keep top talent from jumping to another organization, as companies with a track record of promoting from within retain employees nearly twice as long as those that don’t, according to LinkedIn.

Professional development and training opportunities. Provide succession candidates with opportunities to build both the hard skills and soft skills necessary for advancement. Let candidates have input in determining areas in which they want to improve.

Mentorship. Facilitate interaction between company leaders and succession candidates. Formal mentorship programs allow current leaders to pass down knowledge that candidates can leverage in present and in future roles.

A method of evaluation. Periodically check to see if your succession plan is providing the results you need. Potential questions to ask:

• Are you producing more “ready from day one” candidates to take on leadership roles?

• Are you filling key positions with diverse internal candidates?

• Are your professional development practices giving employees the right skills to succeed in leadership roles? DW

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