The news broke at lunchtime today that Ronald Koeman has been sacked as Everton FC Manager after a disastrous start to the season. Twitter has obviously exploded with the news and people are already speculating as to who is going to take his place and (hopefully) turn their season around. We see a lot of this in sport, particularly in Premiership Football, but it does highlight an issue a lot of companies face themselves, which is simply not being prepared for when a key employee leaves. We’re talking about succession planning, and if it’s not a part of your recruitment strategy already we suggest you keep on reading.
What is succession planning?
Succession planning is the process whereby an organization ensures that employees are recruited and developed to fill each key role within your company in the event that an employee leaves. This means that an employee is always prepared with the right knowledge, skills and abilities to advance into a role if one of those key roles becomes vacant.
Why is succession planning important?
Even companies who feel 100% certain about their future need to think about succession planning, because without a crystal ball you just don’t know what may happen. An employee could fall ill, a CEO could decide to retire, or your best Manager might decide to move abroad – you can’t plan for everything but you CAN prepare your company accordingly to keep your company afloat if in fact the worst does happen.
What are the benefits?
Apart from the obvious of being totally prepared for when a key employee leaves there are also multiple other benefits of adopting a succession plan. It will benefit you in the here and now because preparing those key employees will help strengthen your management teams and also encourage more communication between different departments. While you don’t want your employees behaving like vultures waiting to take a managers place, you can demonstrate the potential route to progression and ensure they are given the correct training to progress when an opportunity does arise! We all take annual leave from time to time so it’s important to know the wheels can keep turning in the absence of any employee anyway, so it’s something we all need to think about!
Key things to think about to get started
It’s not just for the CEO
Most people think of succession planning as something you look at when a CEO or Director flows to coop, but it’s something you should be thinking about for every department within your business. Even when an employee is off for a short period due to holiday or sickness it can impact upon business performance, so you need to be prepared to pick up on their role and responsibilities at any time.
Identify your “strongest employees”
Succession planning often happens internally, so identify your strongest employees now. Speak to your department managers to find out who they envisage being a rising star and valuable asset to your company, but most importantly speak to the employees themselves. You should be asking at regular appraisal meetings what their aspirations for the future are, so you can pin-point areas for progression.
Commitment to develop and mentor
If you want these employees to progress within your organisation then you need to make a firm commitment to mentoring them and helping them advance. You may have them shadow a more senior employee or give them advanced training / allow them to gain the qualifications that they’ll need to move up.
Look at external recruitment
If you don’t have the facility to fill those key roles internally then you’ll need to look at external recruitment. If you’re short on time to fill the role you may want to engage a recruitment agency to find a replacement, so try and maintain good relationships with your recruiters so they are best placed to find a replacement for you. If you handle recruitment internally then keep succession planning at the forefront of yo8ur mind and make sure you are building a strong network of relevant people who could become potential candidates for you in the future.