6 min read

A Guide To Succession Planning

By Lucy Palmer on 04/04/22 12:25

Selecting a new senior leader is a difficult task that should not be underestimated. No matter how perfect your team is, they cannot stay with the company forever. One day, you will have to find a replacement.

Don’t leave yourself in the awkward position of having to source a CEO from nowhere. Succession planning is a long-term strategy designed to make the hiring process easier. It is absolutely crucial to doing your due diligence as an organisation.

What Is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is the process of identifying and training internal team members in a way that prepares them for future leadership. It is not just about hiring your next CEO, but ensuring potential successors are in a strong position to take on the role.

Succession planning is important at every stage of the organisation. Though some departures, such as retirement, are more predictable, you can be caught off-guard by someone’s decision to leave at any moment. 

What Steps Should You Follow When Succession Planning?

  1.       Prepare In Advance

The purpose of succession planning is to improve your long-term strategy. There is no point starting at the last minute. Even if your Senior Leadership Team looks set to stay with the company for many years, you still need to have a contingency plan in place. The same is true for any governance roles on the Board that need to be filled.

An ideal succession plan will be part of your five-year plan. This will allow you to assess the future of the company, as well as the present.


  1.       Assemble A Strong Team

Creating a strong succession planning team will help you to identify the best candidates. It will allow you to see past personal biases and make the decision that matches the trajectory of the company.

In particular, your HR department should be at the centre of succession planning. They will have a good idea of the roles and structure of the organisation which will help you to develop an effective plan. The Chairman should also play a key role in evaluating any decisions.


  1.     Start With Questions

Every organisation is different, so the succession plan for every company will take a different form. Before taking concrete actions, you need to ask what you want to gain from the process.

Some of the questions you might want to ask are:

  •         Which positions do you need or want a succession plan for and which are most urgent?
  •         Which areas of the organisation are most likely to require new hires in the near future?
  •         How will you source the time and resources for succession planning?
  •         Do you want to prioritise experience or potential?
  •         What are the goals of the company?
  •         Are there any changes you want to implement from previous hires?

These questions should give you a strong foundation to start the process.


  1.       Identify Required Skills

As mentioned above, you need to identify the core competencies for any role you want to fill. However, many of these skills are learnable. The succession planning process involves identifying those who are in the best position to adopt them. 

You may want to refer to your last skills audit to better understand the knowledge and expertise of your team members.

Understanding the essential skills for a role is the first step in succession planning for that role. At this stage, it may be useful to communicate with the previous holder of the role. They will have a great understanding of the day-to-day strategic decisions involved in the position.


  1.       Communicate With Your Employees

There is no point having a strong succession plan in theory if it is not suitable in practice. Make sure you have talked the plan over with your employees. If you have identified someone as a future leader, you need to ensure their career goals align with those you have set out for them.

Communicating directly with your employees also gives you the opportunity to understand what they can bring to the role. Alongside a quantitative assessment of their results, you should conduct a qualitative assessment of their personal skills. This survey will allow you to identify those with potential to transform the company in a positive way.


  1.       Support Their Development

Identifying future leaders is far from the end of the process. Succession planning is all about giving them the right training and experience to succeed. By working with a long-term plan, you can set up a training plan that improves their capabilities.

It is absolutely crucial that you devote adequate time and resources to this task. While it may seem like a hassle, you will be thankful when you come to appoint your next leader.


  1.       Consider The Future

While succession planning is all about the future, it is easy to get stuck in the present. You need to put your long-term business objectives at the centre of any internal process. In five years, will your company look the same as it does now? This is unlikely.

Succession planning is a great opportunity to train the next generation of leaders with new expertise. You can build on the competencies of your current leadership team while incorporating new skills.


  1.       Remain Flexible

Flexibility is important at every stage of the succession planning process. You need to be careful not to get caught up in a single idea of what a leader looks like. Instead, you should adapt to the times and demands of your company.

When you have put time and resources into a candidate, you may feel you have to hire them when the moment comes. Don’t fall into this trap! If a better candidate comes along, you should be excited to hire them. Succession planning is about giving yourself the options to make an informed decision.


How Can Convene Help You With Succession Planning?

When it comes to succession planning, you need to understand every aspect of your company structure. Flexibility and communication are key parts of the process that can’t be overlooked. This means you need to ensure the streamlined flow of information across the organisation.

Convene is an award-winning Board portal designed to improve communication within your organisation. From creating an agenda to establishing a strong admin trail, every step of the process should be as smooth as possible. Our comprehensive meeting management software is trusted by professionals around the world.

If you want to learn more about Convene’s proven track record, contact us today to book a free demo.

Lucy Palmer

Written by Lucy Palmer

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