No matter the size of the business, every business needs good employees to fill positions. This means employees must be trained and prepared. Consider succession planning one step up from cross-training. It is like planning your future job replacements. It keeps talent in the pipeline because over a one to two year period those key employees that have the necessary skill sets for certain positions become prepared to step into those roles when they inevitably become available. It does not guarantee they will step into those roles and it does not mean you have selected them for the roles, just that you are giving them the tools to be prepared for that future possibility. It does promise a seamless transition when the time comes, if you select one or more of those prepared employees to fill key positions.
Some immediate benefits to engaging in succession planning include boosting the morale and retention of employees because they feel you are investing in them. It becomes an investment in a business’s human capital and serves as a recognition source. A word of caution though, make sure the employee(s) you speak to about succession planning preparations are clear on the idea. It could work against you if it sounds like you are promising or guaranteeing they will fill some position in the future, and then they feel that you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.
A few final tips on selecting employees for succession planning:
- They should be employees who are open and comfortable with change, you do not want them to feel threatened or forced into this.
- Select employees interested in learning new skills, those who exhibit a skill set involving interest and hardwork is a good starting point.
- Ensure the employees you are hoping to prepare are truly adaptable to different leaders and environments, consider whether they will thrive working in that new position.
- Obtain buy-in from the leaders who will help train these employees, possibly even those whose shoes they will be filling due to voluntary resignation, internal promotion, death or retirement.
- Above all, remember your decisions for such planning should embody diversity and equal employment opportunity.