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The Roadmap to Succession Planning

Workplace shifts happen. People leave, take on new roles and move on to different companies. Are you prepared if one of your top producers leaves tomorrow? A thoughtful succession plan is crucial in today’s labor market with unemployment at historic lows and employees quitting their jobs at record rates. And with trends like workplace ghosting, developing a deep leadership pipeline can help ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected twists and turns that come with unplanned departures. Here’s how to begin building a roadmap for succession planning to line up your future leaders.

Check Your Engine


Identify future leaders of the company. At every level, map out employees who demonstrate the potential to take on leadership roles. For instance, which team members have the potential to accelerate? Identify culture-givers who build strong relationships, take initiative to spearhead new projects and support their peers. Consider having conversations about the direction these employees are headed in their careers. What are their career goals and aspirations? Do they see a future in leadership or management? Have they asked for more responsibility?

Next, sit down with these employees and physically map out their career path with them. That way, they can clearly visualize their path. When employees know what’s next for them and have a clear vision for the future, they’ll be excited to step up and work towards the next destination.

Make the Destination Known


Share your vision with the C-suite and potential leaders in the company. When you rally key stake holders to help mentor and coach high potential employees, you’ll gain support to help ensure the success of the plan. Illustrate who your high potential employees are so they are aware of and understand the succession plan. Then, experienced leaders in the company can proactively mentor the next generation, and the generation after that. Embracing corporate grandparenting can ensure managers guide not only their direct reports, but they layer below as well. Most importantly, this fosters a healthy path for leadership succession and a secure future for the organization.

Put Gas in the Tank


Fuel employees for success through strategic coaching. First, evaluate what’s missing. Are there any gaps that exist between their current skill-set and the positions on the horizon? To train and develop these employees, consider crafting individual plans for them based on their needs and the needs of your organization. Assign stretch assignments to challenge them, recommend books and offer constructive feedback to support their development. Through mentoring the next generation of leaders, you’ll foster agility in the company and enhance innovation.

Take a Test Drive


Test drive your plan. For example, when other leaders are on vacation, allow these people step up and see if the role is a good fit. Testing the transition can help smooth over any bumps in the road and avoid roadblocks. The employee will gain valuable experience before the leader they are replacing passes the torch. That way, you can evaluate how prepared they are to take on the new role.

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