Succession planning in management
This is an exercise that is most often done in larger organization but never really in small or mid-sized companies. Of course, most entrepreneurs might believe that they can’t be replaced or that everybody will stay on board forever. You might thing that until someone important leaves the company. Then of course comes a flurry of panic on how to deal with the situation and you look at promoting the most senior or what looks like the closest replacement available.
Moving up the hierarchy requires coaching and mentoring
I am a strong believer that in order to successfully move up the ladder, you need to not only have the right skills and experience, but also to get proper coaching and mentoring BEFORE and AFTER you get a promotion. I can never understand managers promoting people assuming that somehow they will become a great manager because they got more responsibilities. I have seen too many times great contributors to the business become less valuable as they get higher on the food chain.
Working the career path
Each employee has some form of career path. It is up to the manager to understand this path and guide the person the best way possible in achieving this plan in accordance to the need of the Company. Some employees might need more support, even some training in order to learn what is needed before embarking on a bigger challenge. The better you work and coach your employees, the more options you have as you need to plan to replace someone in the organization.
Building a succession map
While you don’t want to think about someone leaving the company (including yourself), there are many conditions under which a key employee might decide to leave for another opportunity or might not be able to work anymore (health related issues). It is very important to take the time at least once a year to build a succession map. This process will allow you to determine where you have gaps for certain replacement roles as well as what needs to be done in order to bring specific employees at the right place.
Succession does not always come from obvious places
Once you get all your managers to do the same exercise, you might be surprised on a few potential succession – widening opportunities to coach and mentor specific individuals that will better support your business in the long term. Just as well you might realize that some people used to be highly marked as potential successors but have now been set aside. This exercise is also a very good conversation piece with your managers – getting better insight on how they are seeing their direct reports.