Who needs to think about succession planning? We all do!

April 27, 2018

I am considering retiring in 18 months.  Do I need to think about succession planning?  YES.

My organization is relatively flat.  Do I need to think about succession planning?  YES.

My organization is small.  Do I need to think about succession planning?  YES.

I have only been in my role for a year.  Do I need to think about succession planning? YES.

No matter the size, stage or structure of your organization, succession planning is something that deserves your attention.  Here’s why.

We should always be thinking about the next generation of leaders.  Who will take your place when you depart?  It is prudent to consider those who could step into your position upon your departure – whether planned, as in a retirement – or unplanned, as in an unexpected illness or resignation.  You want to leave the organization – and the team – in a position to succeed in your absence.  This is also important if you are getting a promotion, as you will want someone to move into your role quickly and seamlessly so you can assume responsibility in your new position as soon as possible.

In addition, you want to be sure that the person or people who step in to assume responsibility feel prepared and at least somewhat confident.  Whenever possible, look for opportunities to include employees in various aspects of your job.  This may mean including them in the annual budgeting process, inviting them to attend a Board meeting, or participating in an external meeting with a vendor or service provider.  Take a few minutes before the meeting to “set the stage” and follow the meeting with a debrief and time to answer any questions.

We should always be thinking about employee engagement and retention.  It is especially important in a flat organization to provide opportunities for employees to develop new skills and feel like they have opportunities to grow, even if a promotion is not in the cards.  Individuals who have a chance to spend time in a different department, attend a training course or enter into a mentoring relationship will not only learn and bring new perspective to their current role, but they will likely have an increased sense of loyalty to the organization.

We should all take responsibility for succession planning.  Finally, succession planning needs to be integrated and embraced throughout the organization.  It is NOT an “HR initiative”.  In order for succession planning to work, all leaders must share responsibility for talent management, retention and growth.   Make it a priority in your organization!