Quite often, the best talents to fill a position are at your hand. Instead of searching for candidates externally, think about opportunities like succession planning. It helps you build a robust human resources base and move employees from role to role whenever it’s needed.
Let’s review succession planning best practices step by step: from goal setting to L&D and training.
1. Set goals and objectives
First, consider the succession planning need. Ask yourself and your team questions like these to map out the first steps:
“What business goals do I achieve with succession planning?”
“How does succession planning help my business mitigate risks and uncertainties?”
“What kind of positions and workers do I prepare for succession?”
Typically, organizations implement succession planning strategy to cope with the following tasks:
- To create a succession pool or top positions. Thus, a company mitigates the risks of top managers leaving the company and causing revenue loss, a team or department breakup, and more.
- To prepare a succession pool of A-Players that’ll fill in critical positions.
- To create a pool of candidates for typical positions with high turnover rates.
- To prepare a business for new business models, expansion to new markets, mergers and acquisitions, and more.
Forming a succession pool is a long-term and costly process. That’s why succession planning without a formulated objective or a task won’t bring any results, only a waste of valuable resources.
2. Set competencies and skills criteria
The rule of thumb is to choose successors with the A-Player potential. Inevitably, employees’ potential is tightly connected with their direct tasks and professional goals.
Therefore, set competencies and skills criteria for each job role. They’ll help you evaluate the current skillsets of successors, devise individual learning paths, and train employees effectively.
3. Evaluate employees’ skills
Evaluation of employees’ skills allows you to understand whether an employee fits in a position, identify leadership potential, and assess other critical skills to the job role.
Common techniques to evaluate employees’ skills, A-Player qualities, leadership potential, and other competencies include:
- Interviewing at a hiring process. It helps evaluate employees’ long-term aspirations, professional goals, etc.
- With surveys, you can assess particular traits like temper, personality, psychological well-being, values, etc.
- 360-degree surveys. They provide a broader perspective about an employee since they include insights from colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors.
- Personal KPIs, OKRs, and other metrics. Make sure that your KPIs are aligned with a SMART system. Otherwise, employees can quickly lose their motivation because of unattainable goals.
- Skills matrix. Skills matrix allows you to grade employees according to seniority levels and detect bottlenecks that prevent them from promotion.
4. Develop training opportunities
“There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” – John C. Maxwell
Next, fill in the expertise and knowledge gap among successors. Depending on a job role, choose the most workable formats. Some roles require hands-on experience, like stretching assignments and responsibilities, coaching, or practical field training. For the other roles, formal training may be enough.
Also, consider convenient learning formats. For example, Generation Z representatives consume learning materials in the video format by 50% more than other generations. The same research reveals that people expect more micro-learning, “on-the-go” formats that allow them to train at any place, any time.
5. Motivate your employees to participate in succession programs
From a business’s point of view, the benefits of succession planning are evident. By forming a pool of successors, companies can motivate their employees, build sustainable corporate culture, rotate people in positions, and achieve better strategic workforce planning.
As for employees, the benefits of succession planning programs aren’t always clear. Your task is to communicate tangible benefits they get, like the transparency of promotion criteria, instant feedback from supervisors on employee performance, guaranteed career growth, and so on.
Since succession planning implies intensive learning and job empowerment, employees should be ready to accept new tasks and possible work-life balance challenges that will come their way.
Generally, you can motivate your employees to participate in succession programs with material rewards (salary raises, bonuses, reimbursements, etc.) or non-material rewards like appraisals, success stories from peers, extra vacation days, and alike.
6. Measure the results
Metrics depend on your goals, whether it’s improving attrition rates, creating a pool of high-performers, achieving talent mobility, or so.
As long as you choose actionable metrics that shed light on bottlenecks, you’re in a good place. Avoid misleading vanity metrics that neither allow you to spot some room for improvement nor help you anyway.
Here are standard succession planning metrics you can track:
- A number of positions without successors ready to fill them out. It sheds some light on the quality of your succession management and positions that require focus.
- Internal placement rate. It helps you assess the percentage of positions filled with internal talents.
- Bench strength. It’s a qualitative metric that allows you to assess the quality of your internal talents, their readiness to fill in vacant positions, promising candidates, etc.
- Time-to-fill. This metric assesses an organization’s capability to fill a vacancy from the moment it was open.
- Promotion rate. It helps you evaluate the Promotion rate. It indicates the speed of critical organizational changes within a company and the success of your succession management efforts.
You can also track diversity metrics like the pay gap and gender representation along the way to make sure you distribute your workforce evenly and not leave anyone behind.
Make succession planning a continuous process
“Succession planning helps build the bench strength of an organization to ensure the long-term health, growth, and stability” – Teala Wilson
Keep in mind that succession planning doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term process that requires the commitment of both businesses and employees to devise training and participate in it; measure the results and be ready to improve; invest in employee development and give back.
Our HRForecast team would love to support your succession planning journey with HR tech solutions like a talent marketplace platform smartPeople and a strategic workforce planning tool smartPlan. Drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you quickly to demonstrate all the capabilities of our platforms and the benefits you could get.