Succession Planning–Part 2: Getting Started

In our last post we shared with you the reasons why Succession Planning is not just a nice to have, but very, very important to your company’s long-term growth and success. And yet, too many companies remain stalled, not knowing how to get started with a robust, effective program. In this post we share with you a simple model for how to do exactly that. Then, in our next installment, we’ll discuss the details of how to implement that model.

First, a word about models.  Models are generally good things to have—they give you a picture, and a common language that provides both power and simplicity. But it’s also important to remember that there are lots of models out there, and each may have something to offer. So we suggest that, when looking at various models (including ours), you look for ones with flexibility. Only a flexible model will allow you and your company to be flexible as well—which means allowing you to build the type of program that works best for you.  One size, we’ve found, doesn’t fit all….

In our model, we recommend that you focus on a few simple steps. If they seem obvious, it’s because (for the most part) they are. The trick is to execute on them regularly and systematically.  Here they are:

  1. Hire solid people. Your succession plan will only be as good as the people who are in it, so hire A players—the more of them the better. Don’t settle. Hire only the best.
  2. Have a plan for when you need succession, and then assess the importance of your positions and the capabilities of your people. Recognize that it’s a long-term plan, one that should serve your company for years.
  3. Match ‘em up. Figure out where the knowledge and talent is and where you need it, then put them together.
  4. Develop these people in a thoughtful way. Think long-term, and don’t forget that the more you invest in people, the more likely they are to stick around for that next step in their career paths (rather than going off to a competitor!)
  5. Provide coaching and mentoring so that they learn what they need to learn—not just about the job they’re likely to take over, but about the company as a whole, as well as how to manage others.

If you and your team execute well, then you’ll create a virtuous cycle: the best people, properly developed, will understand the value of top performers and they, with confidence, will hire more of them, creating a domino effect of succession candidates.

Check back for Part 3 in this series, where we discuss how you can do just that.

Leave a Comment