Succession planning guide


If an employee is intending to leave your business, you can implement various practices to ensure the handover goes smoothly. This guide examines one such process and how your organisation can utilise it to minimise the loss of productivity. Should you need help with your retention rates or plans for replacing a soon-departing employee, you can refer to our 24/7 HR outsourcing services.

What is succession planning?

The aim of succession planning is to allow you to easily transition workplace responsibilities from departing employees to someone who has is preparing to take on the role. For example, a departing CEO may identify and train an individual in the company to take their place. Business succession planning is a process that requires a large amount of time and funding, meaning you may not consider it and may even question its purpose. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of succession planning models in helping to mitigate the negative impact a departing employee can have on business operations.

Creating the right process

To construct a clear procedure, you must first devise an appropriate strategy by reviewing your confirmed business plan going forward. This is important because the business plan will have a significant impact on staffing needs in the future. For example, if the plan is to grow one part of the organisation, this is likely to produce staffing gaps and new senior positions. Likewise, you don’t want to develop employees for a particular role only for it to not be available in the future. While you can choose to place emphasis on positions you consider critical to the organisation, you can introduce plans for a variety of positions, ranging from entry-level up to senior management. To ensure you’re considering this from every angle, it’s advisable to use a clear succession planning template. You could establish a succession planning model as follows:

  • Review your business goals.
  • Identify any performance gaps of the departing employee.
  • Highlight their key areas and duties.
  • Identify employees showing an interest in the role.
  • Assess them against the role’s requirements.
  • Develop your succession and knowledge transfer plans.
  • Monitor the progress of the employee.

Developing your succession career development plans

Once you establish the initial groundwork, employees must receive appropriate training if they’re to develop into future leaders within your organisation, which you can do through leadership development and succession planning. To this end, you should take an active approach to identify development potential within your current workforce and outline your development plans for them. It’s vital that, when communicating succession planning to employees, you make them aware of your expectations, the opportunities available to them and the key objectives you wish them to reach throughout their time in your company. This can include situations where you identify employees with potential at an early stage in their career. Then you can develop them internally over a number of years. Succession planning examples include:

  • A long-term manager departing, leading you to promote an employee who has displayed considerable initiative.
  • A director retiring, meaning you must find a suitable replacement from within your business.

Succession planning problems can arise and you should be ready for them. For example, you can combat the potential disadvantage of having too many developed staff and insufficient numbers of promoted opportunities by ensuring a structured plan that provides an appropriate period of lead-in time for the development of staff. It’s also important you make sure individuals are fully comfortable with taking on a new role before promoting them, as simply forcing an individual into a promotion they do not feel prepared for will in all likelihood lead to less than satisfactory results. Above all it’s vital to understand that succession plans must be an ongoing process and not reactionary. Once they’re in place, keep your succession plans up to date and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure they continue to serve the needs of the business.

Need our help creating a plan?

With our expert services, you can establish an industry-leading handover process to make employee transitions easier. Call us today: 0808 198 7916

Suggested Resources