The Definitive Guide to Succession Planning.

The Definitive Guide to Succession Planning.

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In this article, we will discuss why succession planning needn’t be the boogeyman it’s made out to be and how you can implement it easily. Before jumping into the rest of the article here is a quick story.

Introduction:

For Michael Eisner, the man who took Disney from a television and theme park enterprise to an industry-spanning media conglomerate, March 4th, 2004 was anything but a day to look forward to. Disney’s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia was going to bring him face to face with dissidents and rivals alike.

Faced with constant attacks over his management methods, a failed attempt to renew a contract with Pixar, and recurring fiscal losses, the Disney boss was sure there were stormy waters ahead of him. His claims that the company was on the right track was met with little enthusiasm and more scowls. On the other hand, Roy Disney’s speech (as a senior executive at Disney) pressing for Mr. Eisner’s removal, was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation. The shareholders had spoken – Michael Eisner must step down.

Fending off unprecedented opposition, the company made an executive decision and replaced Mr. Eisner with Robert Iger, the then COO. Mr. Iger’s appointment itself was fraught with issues right from the get-go. Both Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, who was on Disney’s board of directors, labeled the selection as a sham, with many wondering if an opportunity had been missed by not selecting Meg Whitman the then CEO of eBay. The chapter was but another botched succession attempt in Disney’s history.

Examples like these abound from big multi-billion dollar conglomerates to SMBs. Family-owned businesses, for instance, account for 90% of all enterprises in the US. Of those, 30% are second-generation businesses, meaning 70% of family businesses fail to carry over to the second generation. By the third generation, only 3% are family-owned.

Clearly, there is a huge elephant in the corporate boardroom that everyone’s afraid to look at. And why should they? Deciding who will fill the shoes of a retiring big shot is bound to ruffle some feathers. These factors only make succession planning all the more important, lest the business fails spectacularly. Now let’s dive into the rest of the article.

Chapter Index

  1. What is Succession Planning?

  2. Importance of Succession Planning and Why it Matters

  3. Types of Succession Planning

  4. Identifying Future Leaders

  5. Using the 9-Box Chart for Leadership Identification

  6. Creating a Succession Roadmap

  7. Tools to Help Create and Implement Succession Plans

What is Succession Planning?

What is Succession Planning?
Succession Planning Model

Image Credit: education.vic.gov.au

As the name implies, succession planning involves identifying and nurturing promising persons to take on leadership roles in the future. Properly executed, succession planning can help organizations fend off power vacuums, confusion, and political maneuvering while ensuring a smooth transition of skills from one generation to the next.

Succession has been an important part of the human condition.

Monarchs the world over appointed successors based on heredity. The line of succession to the British throne is a good example here.

As dictators run their affairs much like monarchs, successors are often appointed by the leader himself and more often than not, they are a family member. Dictators, however, have a long history of failing at succession, and the death of one almost always results in a power struggle.

In business, succession planning entails developing the best people internally in order to help them take key positions when leadership steps down. In family businesses though, the owner’s children often succeed and take over the enterprise.

Having well-established objectives and good communication is key to the success of a succession plan. Some strategies for enforcing them can include:

  • Identifying employees who show the greatest potential to assume responsibilities. These are usually people who show exceptional skill, resourcefulness, or enthusiasm toward their jobs.
  • Providing quality and specific experience and knowledge to highlighted individuals.
  • Engaging the leadership to ensure they share their insights and experience to help the appointees understand what the expectations will be from them.
  • Building a database to record how succession decisions were made to ensure the knowledge may be passed on to the next generation.
  • Managing the expectations of other team members to ensure rivalries do not develop.

To ensure a smooth transition of power, an organization will need to:

  • Identify the roles that need succession planning.
  • Define the competencies and skillsets required to fulfill those roles in the future.
  • Identify and constantly assess the internal talent pool to find persons who fit the defined criteria.
  • Develop cherry-picked employees to fulfill said roles.

A good example of succession planning done right is how Virginia M. Rometty succeeded Samuel J. Palmisano at IBM. Beginning as a systems engineer in 1981, Rometty climbed the ranks as SVP, and then group executive of sales, marketing, and strategy before she was offered the role of CEO. Her transition to becoming IBM’s first female CEO was smooth as she had adequate time with the company, was a good cultural fit, and was the product of a level playing field that gave everyone a shot at the post.

Importance of Succession Planning and Why it Matters

Why Succession Planning Matters

Losing experience and knowledge can easily set a company back by years if not decades as the following leadership will need to relearn important lessons by making costly mistakes all over again. Succession planning helps you circumvent any untoward what-if scenarios of leadership failure and ensure that your business transitions from one generation to the next.

Companies go to incredible lengths to ensure continuity. From insurance to disaster planning and redundant data backups, every worst-case scenario is accounted for and planned in advance, at least as long as it pertains to business strategy in general. Unfortunately, leadership continuity usually ends up missing the boat. In 2011, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) carried out a survey of succession planning. Of the 8,000 responses, a paltry 8% said they had a written succession plan while 37.9% had an informal one. In other words, over 52% of businesses had no succession plan at all.

Similarly, a Forbes survey also found that CEOs are rather poorly equipped to handle the idea of replacement:

“Ego drives many CEOs who cannot face the fact that succession is as important as management in the long-term success of a corporation. Many just cannot give up the power gracefully, and like an aging athlete, often stay beyond their ‘best used by’ date.”

Source

On other occasions, the CEO may simply appoint the wrong person out of personal prejudices. For example, Harold Jackson, the retiring CEO of a small tool manufacturing company decided to elevate his second in command, Phil Conti, to replace him. Even though the board had recommended bringing in an outsider to add some new talent to their pool, Jackson went ahead with his decision as Phil knew both the company and the small tools industry like the back of his hand. However, after five years of little progress and no new products being produced, the board decided to replace Conti.

Examples such as these are quite common as leaders find the idea of confronting their own obsolescence quite difficult. However, as many in the higher corporate echelons belong to the baby-boomer cadre, the time for them to step down is already here. As of 2018, nearly half the people born between 1946 and 1960 have reached their retirement age of 66. And, according to one recent report, retirements are the reason behind most CEO openings in executive headhunting-firm portfolios.

In other words, companies have no choice but to confront succession in a planned and organized manner, one that doesn’t rely on emotional calls, gut feelings, and bias to execute. At the heart of the succession, the problem is not having a well-defined strategy to assess individuals and how they would be able to perform in their future roles.

Confirmation bias, or accepting data that supports one’s views, and unconsciously rejecting data that goes against it is another pressing issue that leaders are many times guilty of. More often than not, leaders will select successors who are a lot like them and not those who are equipped with the skills and attitude to drive organization-wide progress.

But the problem itself is not that difficult, provided leaders can learn to distance themselves from their feelings and trust facts. Putting together a succession plan becomes easy if you follow a well-thought-out plan. The next section details the different types of succession plans you can opt for.

Types of Succession Planning

Types of Succession Planning

A firm’s succession planning needs to take into account all the different factors that may propel change, not just the ones they are mentally prepared for. To this effect, three types of succession plans are prescribed:

1. Strategic Leader Development

Finding and developing leaders becomes harder as the workforce becomes highly mobile, short-term, and virtual. Evaluating candidates from such a background against shifting requirements will be the toughest challenge that managers face today. This is one of the primary reasons why so many talent evaluations fail. In fact, in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review, only 40% of those placed in high positions may belong there.

The decision to discover and develop future leadership starts at the top. Some methods that can be used are:

  • Evaluate a candidate’s past performance: For a clear picture, assess their entire career, not just how they performed in a particular organization. Consider talking with your peers in their past companies, friends, and older supervisors. A key point to look out for is that verbal feedback can be inaccurate as people often add personal prejudices to their professional opinions.

    For instance, if a candidate had helped a supervisor in time of need, it may cause the latter to give a more glowing report even if that person had not performed well. Asking for hard numbers and performance-based inquiries will yield better insights.

  • Conduct periodic competency assessments: Even if you think you have found “the one,” chances are they won’t stay that way for long. People change and evolve in different ways after all. To ensure you have an updated picture at all times, consider conducting competency assessments of qualified individuals. A competency assessment tries to measure an employee’s knowledge, skills, and attitude with regard to both their current job and future demands.

    Here’s an excellent resource for crafting a competency assessment strategy. While it deals specifically with medical professionals, the questions and methods given can easily be used in other industries as well.

  • Gamify the succession process: Giving candidates business games can be a great way to get them down in the trenches in a fun and lively way. Gamification has been used successfully in many business development practices, and there is no reason why it cannot be used to arm prospective leaders with both the skills and perspective needed to carry out future duties.

    Succession plans and zombies are one such strategy where a team is tasked with performing better than the management. Each involved employee is allowed to create their own succession plan and they have to wager a part of their paycheck against its success.

  • Ask for their client’s feedback: User testimonials are still the best way to gauge how someone has performed and what impression they left. Doing so also allows you to understand what the client wants and how well the candidate(s) understood them.

  • Review the company’s direction to understand what qualities are required: Before a replacement candidate can be sought, management has to know where their organization is heading. The strategic direction that a company is taking should be used to define the skills, qualities, and attitudes desired. Doing so can also help the company distance leadership recruitment from any personal prejudices that may linger in the assessors.

2. Departure Defined Succession Planning

Since we are talking about replacing key figures in an organization, it makes sense to define how long their tenure would last and plan succession events accordingly. Doing so can also put a timeline on when the succession should occur, who would succeed who, and how it would happen. Here are a few ways how to go about this:

  • Understand each manager’s tenure, and stick to it: As mentioned above, senior managers staying well past their “best before” date is one of the reasons why successions fail. Another problem arises by not defining how long a key figure should stay on; if they have to be forcibly removed, hurt feelings can mar a great career.

    Clearly spelling out how long a manager is expected to stay on to a post can help the latter move on comfortably, while helping new recruit ease into the role. It’s also worth noting that the departing manager should be given adequate closure when his tenure comes to a close. Acknowledging his/her achievements and awarding a healthy separation package can help with the transition and reinstate trust in the existing workforce.

  • Engage the board of directors/upper management completely: All too often, a C suite manager will groom a successor, only to find the board rejects their choice vehemently. Engaging the entire top management in crafting a succession plan and keeping them up to speed on how things are progressing is of paramount importance.

    Creating a transition committee that can create a succession strategy and oversee its execution can help managers keep things transparent. Including board members who have HR experience and knowledge relevant to the task will help, too.

3. Emergency or Interim Succession Plan

For all our long term planning and cleverness, life will always find a way to blindside us and knock us down from time to time. The succession of key individuals is no different. While it’s always best for successors to evolve into their roles, chances are, the role shift may be required sooner than expected. Any company needs to have a plan to have an ad-hoc replacement ready until the primary candidate has been prepared. Interim successions are always best thought of as short term solutions and a clear exit strategy should be defined from the start.

Unplanned departures can occur due to illness, injury, death, or the manager leaving suddenly either voluntarily or involuntarily. It can be further broken down into:

  • Short-term unplanned absence – usually equal to or less than three months.
  • Long-term unplanned absence – more than three months. And,
  • Permanent unplanned absence – no period defined.

Some suggestions for dealing with such occurrences are:

  • Create an emergency activation team: As an unplanned executive departure occurs, the organization will want the duties to continue unimpeded. A team consisting of board members, staff, and stakeholders can help ensure there is no loss of function until a suitable replacement can be found.

  • Clarify board responsibilities: As board members will lead the activation team, their responsibilities should be clearly defined so that there are no overlapping jurisdictions at times of crisis. Some questions to consider asking:

    1. Who will lead the activation team?
    2. Who will communicate the plan to the staff?
    3. Who will be responsible for finding a replacement?
    4. How will the interim manager be incorporated into the role?

  • Consider cross-training management staff: As the organization will be thrust into uncharted waters at the time of an unplanned executive departure, arming key individuals across job descriptions with the skills needed to oversee the transition process will be important. Individuals and teams that report directly to the exiting manager will be prime candidates for cross-training.

  • Understand the fallout a sudden exit can have: A key figure suddenly not being available can have a serious ripple effect throughout the organization. Consider brainstorming all the ways the absence of a manager can affect everyone and educate the staff on the findings.

Identifying Future Leaders

Identifying Future Leaders

While plans can help you create a structure for any endeavor, finding something as personal as the right human qualities require a certain eye. Many people will exhibit traditional leadership traits, however, not all are an ideal fit for a particular position. Some may seem “not quite there yet” as they have certain attributes but lack other important ones. Here’s how you can go about finding the right stock to pick a leader from:

Look for Subject Matter Experts:

Leadership positions deeper into an organization will require greater department-specific expertise. A subject matter expert is defined as someone who has in-depth, highly specific knowledge about a function, technology, process, equipment, or material. While the value that such individuals bring to an organization cannot be denied, SMEs, as they are also known, will need to have other traits as well. Which brings us to the next point.

Find Good Communicators:

In a recent survey of 802 persons by Kaplan, communication skills were marked as the number one requirement in leaders by 32% of respondents. Knowing how to tell someone why something matters and needs to be done is just about the most crucial skill there is.

Persons talented at communication will be able to break down complex ideas into easily understandable facts. Listeners will often comment on how they just “get it” when a good communicator is speaking. Many times, such people will be the preferred option for solutions by team members, even over SMEs. In fact, if you can train experts to be good communicators, then you will have a winning combination.

Look out for people with a vested interest in the company’s future:

Leadership is about steering a company in the best direction. People who can see their company succeeding are big-picture thinkers who have a strong vision and are thus ideally suited for leadership positions.

Says Mary Kaiser, executive coach –

I remind the business owners and execs I work with that focusing solely on the day-to-day details will not help grow their company to the next level. To get them moving in the right direction, we work on setting aside specific increments of time each month to devote to the vision and integrating the vision into interactions with employees.

Try job rotation:

Leaders will need to coordinate with departments other than themselves. If you think someone is showing promise, have them try their hand at different tasks to see how they respond. Ideally, a candidate should be willing to take on new challenges and push their boundaries. Those who find new ways to improve themselves will find innovative ways to take their organizations to new heights as well.

Look for result-oriented people:

All the charisma and enthusiasm in the world cannot make up for a lack of results. Potential candidates will exhibit a tendency to perform above and beyond the expectations of both of their team and the management.

Author David Goleman suggests in this article

During performance reviews, people with high levels of motivation might ask to be “stretched” or challenged by their superiors. Of course, an employee who combines self-awareness with internal motivation will recognize her limits, but she won’t settle for objectives that seem too easy to fulfill. And it follows naturally that people who are driven to do better also want a way of tracking progress – their own, their team’s, and their company’s.

Prioritize emotional intelligence:

While a high IQ is good for solving problems, dealing with people requires a specific, emotional knack. Marcel Schwantes, founder of Leadership From the Core says potential leaders will exhibit the following traits:

  1. They are not afraid of expressing their feelings clearly and directly.
  2. Their thoughts are not dominated by negative feelings such as fear, hopelessness, and victimization.
  3. They can express their thoughts clearly and succinctly. They will know speaking is meaningless if the listener is not understanding what they want.
  4. They have a high degree of self-awareness and will ask themselves questions that others won’t. They are also naturally skilled at identifying subtle, fleeting changes that remain invisible to others.
  5. They are not motivated by power, wealth, status, fame, or approval. They play the game for its own sake.

Using the 9-Box Chart for Leadership Identification

Using the 9-Box Chart for Leadership Identification

Image credit: Performanceculture.com

The 9-box chart is a predictive assessment tool that is often used to gauge talent within an organization. The chart is both simple in its implementation, accurate in its results and can be modified to suit a company’s needs.

The model consists of nine boxes arranged along the x and y-axis grid. The boxes on the x-axis measure performance, while those on the y-axis measure potential. The reason this box is such an ideal fit for a company’s succession process is that it can help you segment each employee and understand what value they offer. While the box is an ideal fit for succession planning, it can be used for organization-wide talent grooming, too.

Placement in the grid is based upon a three-point scale – high, moderate, and low. The nine boxes carry labels of qualities that are required by the company. HR managers usually come up with their own labels that they find fitting for the roles. For example, High Performers can be labeled as “Consistent Stars.”

Leadership can use the chart to “slot” their employees and managers into a cell which can then be used to decide upon their promotion (or demotion) or to start a discussion among the board of directors.

While effective, the method is not without problems as it relies on an assessor’s personal views of someone’s performance. It’s easy to assess a candidate’s performance, but trying to understand their potential can be tricky. No one stays the same over long periods of time and it’s easy to miss key points. Attempting to remain as objective as possible can help keep natural biases at bay and keep the company prepared for the long term evolution of an individual. Some common problems encountered are:

  • Some managers are prone to leniency.
  • Oftentimes, a manager will use his or her own standards which may or may not match the organization’s goals.
  • Managers with different priorities and experiences can set standards that are different from an employee’s perspective, thereby resulting in false-positives.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, assessors should use as much data as possible to make their assessments. Some metrics that can be used are:

  • Use as much data on past performance as you have available.
  • Come out with common definitions of high and low performance along with senior managers or board of directors.
  • Assign competency ratings for each assessee’s respective level.
  • Consider including measurement of a candidate’s emotional maturity and intelligence along with their performance.
  • Use psychologically valid methods in your assessment.

Creating a Succession Roadmap

Creating a Succession Roadmap

A planned and organized way to affect your company’s succession will not only ensure your next crop of leaders transition to their positions easily but will also provide a map you can refine for posterity. A succession plan must consider each employee’s skills, personality, and goals, and maps them to the company’s own objectives. The map will also help senior management compare past, present, and future roles and track their employees’ performance to ensure they are ready to take on new challenges. Consider the following steps:

  • Put a BASKET together: Standing for behavior, attitude, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent, a BASKET will help you create specific models for each job profile so that they may be tracked. Each model will help your staff understand what the management’s current expectations are and how those will look within measurable time frames.
  • Plan forward: Make double sure that you have considered what skills will be required to affect your future plans. For instance, if you intend to expand to another country, you might consider hiring people who can either speak the language or have experience working there. Similarly, if you are thinking of adopting working methods like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), then managers who have agency experience and know the latest working trends will be a good choice.
  • Mind the gap: An important part of creating a succession plan is to ascertain all the gaps that exist in an employee’s skills and how those can be filled. By understanding who has required skill-sets and how long it will take to complete them, you can easily identify future leaders and begin working on them. Furthermore, you can put a time frame on how long it will take to groom future leaders.
  • Be sure to include the employees: What happens if you have earmarked an employee, but he/she leaves for another company just because they were unaware that there was a better future in your organization? Not including the people who are intended to succeed is a major point where succession programs go wrong. Interview your employees to find out what their goals are and then let them in on what you’re planning. Furthermore, make sure you are including their suggestions into your plans.
  • List out potential threats: What could stop an employee’s progress? Can something cause them to move away from the organization? What obstacles could the entire succession initiative face? Answering all these and similar questions will help you develop counter-strategies to defeat any threats that may crop up in the future.
  • Involve every stakeholder: The more transparency that exists between all the stakeholders, the better the results of the succession will be. Work with the selected candidates, your CEO, and the board of directors to find the best solutions to problems.
  • Have a plan to follow the plan: All too often, companies will come up with an elaborate set of to-dos only to forget about them in the thick of things. Once your plans are ready, create a periodic review to keep tabs on how you are progressing. Succession planning and talent management tools can help you out greatly here. More on that in the next chapter.

Tools to Help Create and Implement Succession Plans

Tools to Help Create and Implement Succession Plans

Succession planning is already infamous for being a hard task to master, and for a good reason. Dealing with something as finicky as human nature over prolonged periods of time can become confusing and tedious. However, with cloud-based tools available today, managers can not only create elaborate succession roadmaps but track them every step of the way. Here are our top succession planning tools:

PageUp

Free trial: Yes

Training: Documentation, webinars, live online, in-person

Features:

  • Intuitive 9-Grid based assessment tool
  • 360-degree feedback
  • Competency scale
  • Employee profiling
  • Organizational charting

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, PageUp is a premier provider of cloud-based HR solutions and offers everything from recruitment to analytics under one hood. Their succession tools are extremely well thought out and are built around the 9-Box Grid. You can select your own labels or choose from one of the many templates provided. Each role can be mapped against defined competencies and tracked every step of the way. Some interesting features that PageUp presents are:

  • Employee profiles: Document each employee, their strengths, skills, experience, and goals.
  • Talent review: Helps you understand each employee’s relative strengths and reviews.
  • Interactive 9-Box grid: Works something like a dynamic dashboard where you can both place your employees and get a snapshot of the complete picture.
  • Bench strength: Can be measured against each role to help understand the talent pipeline in depth.
  • 360-degree feedback: Input from all the quarters of the organization is pooled into one header to help managers make more informed decisions.
  • Goal management: Set and assign tasks, then track them from start to finish. Map the progress in the 9-Box grid to understand how an employee is progressing.

Perception

Free trial: Yes

Training: Documentation, videos, live online, in-person

Features:

  • Focused exclusively on sentiment analysis
  • Effective cultural alignment features
  • Performance management
  • Surveys

Ultimate Software’s Ultimate Perception is a powerful cloud-based human capital management (HCM) solution designed exclusively for sentiment analysis. While it doesn’t offer dedicated succession planning, it certainly has features that managers can leverage. Interested persons will particularly find their Ultimate Perceptions tool interesting.

A configurable solution, Ultimate Perception can help managers understand their employees at a deeper level using advanced sentiment analysis. The software uses traditional employee surveys coupled with Ultimate Software’s own AI called Xanders coupled with natural language processing to understand how they are progressing, what they are feeling, and to turn unstructured data into succinct insights.

Answers to surveys are presented in an easy to understand format using Intelligent Reporting which provides instant analysis of both open-ended and quantitative responses. Scores can be seen across the entire organization or within specific departments or teams. Finally, benchmark data is also provided so that you can compare your scores against similar organizations in your industry.

Trakstar

Free trial: Yes

Training: Documentation, webinars, live online

Features:

  • Focused exclusively on performance appraisal
  • Appraisal history tracking
  • Custom rating scale
  • Peer appraisals
  • Self-appraisals

Trakstar is an award-winning cloud-based Human Resource Management (HRM) solution with powerful features including employee performance review, 360-degree feedback, goal management, and succession planning.

Trakstar helps HR departments to align suitable candidates with a company’s core values, helping to build a productive organizational culture using well-defined competencies and goals.

Trakstar is best known for its powerful appraisal management feature which allows HR managers to rate employees across competencies based on questions. Trakstar can send out periodic reminders to managers and employees if certain tasks are required before an appraisal can be completed.

They also offer an intuitive and powerful reporting feature which can help managers run detailed reports into each employee’s work history and performance ranking along with other performance-based segments.

Their Fastrak feature allows managers to quickly edit staff lists, add measurements and goals, and track each employee through them.

MentorcliQ:

Free trial: Yes

Training: Documentation, videos, blog, live online, in-person

Features:

Focused exclusively on mentoring

A highly effective matching algorithm

Track progress of your mentoring program

While the solutions described above are geared towards managing aspects of succession planning, MentorcliQ is all about helping leaders groom the next generation.

The software comes loaded with features such as user profiling, mentor matching, match scoring, and reporting using algorithms to evaluate and match mentors with potential candidates by helping managers to analyze profiles, skills, and personalities of mentors and mentees. Mentees can also select preferred mentors using shared preferences.

All stakeholders can gain real-time knowledge of how a particular collaboration is proceeding using real-time dashboards with performance metrics of mentees on individual development and career growth. MentorcliQ is divided into four categories:

  • Launch: Enroll candidates into the MentorcliQ database and set up custom profiles for all the mentors and mentees. You can create your own mentoring program using their flexible structure.
  • Match: This is where MentorcliQ really shines. The software creates detailed match scores using user profiles, preferences, and personalities to match mentors with mentees. Emphasis is placed on creating stable relationships.
  • Mentor: The meat and potatoes of the software, the mentor and mentee will work together to complete the program which was set up in Launch mode.
  • Measure: MentorcliQ will provide measurable insights throughout a program to all stakeholders involved.

While MentorcliQ is targeted to organizations that are looking to retain and engage employees, the features are an ideal fit for succession programs as well, since it has a strong mentoring component.

SweetProcess:

Free trial: Yes

Training: Documentation, videos, blog

Designed for: Any industry

Features:

  • Document-as-you-go design
  • Turn policies into trackable tasks
  • Easily document policies and SOPs
  • Version control
  • Break policies into detailed checklists

At its heart, succession is about ensuring knowledge is passed from one generation to the other. To do that, you will need to document every process, procedure, and policy your organization follows, and SweetProcess is the ideal tool to do so. The software makes it very easy to create policies, processes, procedures, and steps that can be attributed to an employee and then tracked from start to finish.

Policy: A policy is a broad overarching directive that an organization must follow.

Process: Indicates a certain way an action (or group of actions) must be performed. Processes can exist across roles or departments if need be.

Procedures: A procedure is a more rigid, officially sanctioned method of carrying out an operation. Processes may consist of one or more procedures.

Steps: Each action that must be performed to complete a procedure. Either a process or procedure can consist of several steps.

Conclusion

Often, leaders like to fall back on emotional hunches when deciding who their successors will be. It is not an uncommon sight to see people being picked simply because they made a better impression on their superiors. Doing so can introduce a lot of uncertainty that a business can do without.

While succession planning deals with forces that many people find uncomfortable, it is nevertheless an important part of an organization’s structure. The tips and tools described above will help you effect a well-organized succession plan, document it, and evolve it as necessary.

We have put together a succession planning checklist to help you keep track of your leadership transfer. The checklist segments succession planning into four categories and lists critical questions you need to ask. These include:

Establishing goals and objectives

Identifying candidates

Developing candidates to become future leaders

Transferring leadership

Evaluation

Download your free copy here.

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