Owning and operating a business is no easy feat. Many business owners want to see their business thrive long after they retire. To ensure this happens, business owners and leaders need to engage in succession planning. Whether you’re a family-owned enterprise or a large corporation, having a well thought-out succession plan in place is essential to maintain the longevity of the business. In this blog, we will explore the important steps to take while succession planning for your business.

Succession planning is a critical aspect of ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of any business. It involves identifying and developing employees to fill key roles within the company when current leaders retire or move on.  For example, if a supervisor left their department today, how would that impact the department and company as a whole? Would the team still be able to run smoothly? Will the company see major negative impacts due to one individual leaving?

Example: Joe is the head supervisor at a 150-person company. Joe has been there 10 years and is the only person who knows about repairing one of the main machines on site, as well as how to navigate the computer system needed for weekly reports.  Joe unexpectedly leaves the company without notice and takes his skills and knowledge along with him. Now the company’s production has slowed due to a broken machine that only Joe knew how to fix, Joe’s former staff has no guidance on what to do, and the company cannot view their weekly progress reports that are vital to track their growth since Joe was the only person with access to the system.  How would the company proceed?


Steps to take when creating an effective Succession Plan

1. Begin Planning Early:

Succession planning is not something that can be accomplished overnight. It requires careful consideration and a long-term perspective. Starting the process early allows you to identify and train potential successors, ensuring they have the necessary skills and experience to take on leadership roles when the time comes.

For example, Samantha is the head project manager at her firm. She is planning to retire in 4 years and spoke to upper management about her concerns regarding who will take on her position, and what to prepare them for.  Samantha and her management team discuss how long it will take to prepare the next person to successfully take on Samantha’s position after she retires. They estimate it will take approximately 3 years to select a predecessor, train them, and have them fully prepared to take on her role.


2. Assess Your Talent:

Identify individuals with leadership potential, not just based on their current performance, but also on their ability to adapt, learn, and grow with the organization. Consider conducting regular performance reviews and assessments to keep track of their progress. You can also keep employees informed about the process and the qualities you are looking for in future leaders, so they can be aware of possible future opportunities in the company.


3. Involve Key Stakeholders:

Engage key stakeholders, including current leaders, and board members (if applicable), in the succession planning process. Their insights and perspectives can provide valuable input into the selection and development of future leaders. Additionally, involving them ensures transparency and alignment with the overall business goals.


4. Provide Training and Development:

Invest in the training and development of potential successors. This can include leadership training programs, mentoring, coaching, on-the-job experiences, or providing a stipend for pursuing an educational degree if necessary.  By enhancing their skills and knowledge, you prepare them for the challenges they might face in their future leadership roles.


5. Plan for Contingencies:

Succession planning should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Develop contingency plans for unexpected events such as sudden retirements, resignations, or emergencies.  Having backup successors in place ensures that your business operations continue smoothly even in unforeseen circumstances.


6. Monitor and Adjust the Plan:

Succession planning is not a one-and-done task. Regularly monitor the progress of your identified successors and be prepared to adjust the plan as needed. As your business needs evolve, so should your succession strategy. Stay flexible and adapt to changing circumstances as time progresses.


Effective succession planning is vital for the long-term sustainability of your business. By creating a thorough plan, and developing your employee’s skill set, you can ensure a smooth transition of leadership and secure the future success of your organization.

If your organization needs expertise or resources for effective succession planning, please contact us. Our team of HR experts can provide valuable insights, best practices, and guidance tailored to your specific business needs.