A well-developed succession plan can provide many important benefits to your organization.

A proper succession planning process is beneficial in two ways. First, it enables you to strategically identify and develop high-potential employees for future leadership needs at your business. Second, it provides your staff with learning opportunities and goal orientation, which can promote self-efficacy and mastery of new skills.

You can ensure your business is prepared to deal with all contingencies, such as losses of key leaders due to retirement, resignation, termination, illness or death, by implementing these key steps in your process for succession planning.

Develop a Strategic Roadmap

A strategic roadmap will give you a clear picture of where you are today and where you would like to be at some point in the future. Start your succession planning process by detailing what actions are needed to reach your business's long-term vision and strategy. Decide who will be accountable for each expected outcome in order to set milestones and track progress.

Draft Well-Defined Job Descriptions

Clearly define each critical job position in alignment with your strategic goals. A detailed look at these roles will help you match talent with required tasks.

According to Diane Mulhall, Director of Solution Design at ADP, the process will enable you to identify skill gaps and training needs for future roles. Identify risk areas by using demographic analysis or workforce projections. The resulting risk analysis will give you a better idea of current and future critical positions that need to be filled.

Identify Competencies

Create several job-based competencies per critical role at your organization to develop talent with a wide range of skills, Mulhall says. She also recommends that businesses look at indicative data, previous jobs, licenses, etc., in order to recruit and develop individual talent.

By identifying competencies, you will help your employees understand the key responsibilities and success criteria attached to a larger role. Your business will also be able to set clear performance expectations, better assess performance and form a talent pool that consists of leaders of the future.

Build Leaders

By building leaders, you will enable your workforce to see upward mobility, which will incentivize them to stay with the organization, according to Mulhall.

Provide your next generation of leaders with the foundation they need to succeed in higher roles by using a combination of approaches to employee development. Techniques such as lunch and learns, job shadowing, cross-training and mentorships can promote employee growth. Use targeted training and select workers that are comfortable with change, interested in obtaining new skills and adaptive to various work environments and leadership. Mulhall finds that succession management tools and solutions are helpful in identifying and evaluating successors.

Establish Standards and Metrics

Decide the standards and metrics for your succession program in advance. You can determine program quality by administering customer satisfaction surveys to reveal employee satisfaction levels with personal development and/or management satisfaction levels with new hires. Metrics such as retention rate of key talent, percentage of targeted vacancies filled by talent pool candidates and time to fill positions can help you determine the program's effectiveness.

To increase success, be sure key leaders are committed to the plan and are held accountable for developing their subordinates. This will help secure buy-in and mitigate resistance to change.

By implementing a succession planning process, you are investing in your employees, which can help boost morale and retention. It can also enable your business to fill critical jobs quickly with candidates that are ready to step in.

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