What is Succession Planning?

Jenny Handwerk |

What is Succession Planning?


Succession planning refers to a business strategy firm use to transfer leadership roles to another individual or group of employees. Succession planning ensures that firms continue to operate efficiently and without interruption after crucial personnel move on to new opportunities, retire, or pass away. 

It can also serve as a liquidity event, allowing rising employees to acquire ownership in an ongoing firm. Firms can use succession planning to ensure that they are well equipped to promote and progress all the employees, not just those in management or executive positions.

Succession planning is a company approach for transferring leadership responsibilities to one or more other personnel. The technique guarantees that organizations run efficiently after employees retire or leave.

Cross-training personnel to assist them in gaining skills, expertise, and an understanding of the business is part of succession planning. Long-term plans are intended to accommodate future developments, whereas emergency plans are used when something unexpected occurs.

Succession planning has numerous advantages, including inclusivity, if businesses have a clear plan to diversify their workforce.

Succession planning ensures that a company can continue to operate efficiently even if an essential position becomes vacant. An organization may desire a succession plan to maintain internal company expertise, identify skill gaps for training, and invest in people. The approach aids in the identification of personnel who possess the essential skill sets and talent to fill the vacant position.



What are the benefits of succession planning?


Filling the talent pipeline with trained individuals can help a firm in a many of ways, allowing it to:


  • Reduce hiring costs.  
  • Reduce hiring and filling times. Maintain continuous workflow despite setbacks
  • Encourage participation and retention 
  • Have improved performance 
  • Retirement planning and preparation 


People also gain from succession planning since it boosts their confidence, involvement, and motivation while strengthening their competencies and advancing their careers.


How Does It Work?


Businesses use succession planning to smooth the transition of leadership or ownership. It comprises finding internal personnel who merit development and training to take on further responsibility inside the firm. 

These programs will only be effective if firms take the necessary measures. Plans are usually long-term in order to account for unavoidable future changes. To account for unanticipated developments, emergency measures may be implemented.


Steps for Successful Succession Planning 


Be proactive with a plan.


A scheduled retirement is an excellent example of when you'll know ahead of time if a hard-to-replace team member will quit the firm. Other times, an unexpected and perhaps jarring employee leave will catch you off guard. That's why you need a strategy right now.


Design a succession planning strategy.


The plan should define HR leaders' objectives and procedures to select which positions to train for, who to include in the pipeline, training materials and resources, different educational methodologies, the program's outcome, the budget, and the schedule. 


Begin with a trial program.


Instead of diving in headfirst, HR directors can get their feet wet by launching an experimental succession plan. As HR tests the waters, this introductory program can include a smaller pool of people. 


Step up professional development efforts.


Ideally, you have already invested in the professional growth of people you have chosen as your succession candidates. That preparation must now be stepped up. Job rotation is an excellent technique to assist your prospects in learning new skills and experience. Connecting them with mentors can also help them improve in the critical area of soft skills: The most effective leaders have excellent communication skills and refined interpersonal skills such as empathy and diplomacy. 


While line managers must own succession planning, the leadership team must actively champion it. People professionals also play an essential role in supporting and facilitating the process. They must gather information on possible applicants by planning and administering evaluation processes and providing information assistance by creating and maintaining appropriate databases. People professionals have confidential information, provide career advice, and are skilled at assessing and advising on individual development requirements.

Preparing for unavoidable changes in the workplace through succession planning can help keep a business running smoothly. People are empowered by succession planning, which increases their competencies, confidence, motivation, and loyalty. As a result, the organization benefits from high-performing, knowledgeable, and motivated employees. Investing in training and career development improves the flow of growth and productivity, resulting in a healthy and robust business culture.