Caring and successful people think ahead responsibly and strategically. They do that at any stage of their career along with any role they take on in their personal life. One of those responsible strategies is to have a succession plan. As I look back my 20+ years career and my personal interests and philanthropy roles, my goal was always to plan for success. Part of my plan was making the present situation strong and keeping it strong when I move on. Many people who worked with me learned about it, and some became my mentees and/or successors. I mentored many to do the same and become their own version of responsible leader. Imagine, everyone in the company is thinking about the present and the future and targeting someone else to develop and grow for succession. That’s the healthy cycle of success!
Ideally, when you enter a role, project or engagement, you should start thinking about making it successful but more importantly, should plan its continuous success. This step is called identifying and preparing the potential successor(s). You should be considering candidates that would take your current role when (not if) you advance ahead. Succession planning entails knowing the job requirements and skills required very well, then seeking hungry, want-to-learn and make-it-happen type people internally first and then externally if need be. It will help you to connect closer with many people around you and sign up teaching and growing them. It is not only about having someone fill your spot when you move on. It is about you caring enough about your people, business, organization, and society to make sure you leave behind a functional space and continuous success.
As you figured already, succession planning is not a single event, but rather a long and consistent process that ensures serious and caring engagement with people, building quality relationships and living the responsible leadership lifestyle.
Think about it: as you have people to continue being successful, your mind is ready to do more and you in turn may become someone else’s succession plan. In fact, strategic succession planning is beneficial on many counts: creates more engaged environment and people, increases retention, continuous growth, offers cost benefits in recruiting, and saving time and effort in finding the right candidates.
Beyond the cost benefits that the company would have through this responsible approach, succession planning is also something that workers look forward to because it is a sign of inclusivity, stability and the vision of a brighter future.
Consider these statistics from a study done by SoftwareAdvice:
- 62% of employees surveyed say they would be “significantly more engaged” at work if their company had a succession plan.
- 94% of employers surveyed report that having a succession plan positively impacts their employees’ engagement levels.
- 90% of younger workers (age 18 to 34) say that working at a company with a clear succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement.
- 79% of employers surveyed note they have succession plans in place for mid-level manager positions.
- 81% of employers report using some form of software to organize the process of succession planning.
The key message here is that a succession plan is for everyone at any rank at work and at any community, organizations, including board type roles. There is no need to wait until the company or the organization by-laws asks or orders people to participate in a program.
Each of you reading this article should walk away and ask yourselves: “What is my succession plan for everything that I do or everything that I have?” Waiting is not leadership. Waiting is not being responsible. Waiting is not caring.
It is clear that succession planning does have a positive impact on everyone in the workplace and other community efforts. It shows responsibility and accountability on behalf of the company or a group of people, which then leads into people feeling that they see a path and a future. No matter what position or rank you may be in, remember that someone else will inevitably fill your shoes one day, so start thinking, planning, teaching and preparing those who will fill your shoes before it becomes a last minute hit-or-miss activity.