Succession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic way. Because many nonprofits are small (with fewer than 10 employees) and because they may be facing other organizational challenges, thinking about who the next executive director might be or what would happen if the director of finance suddenly left is not high on their priority list.
Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders or senior managers, as well as individuals to fill other business-critical positions, either in the short- or the long-term. In addition to training and development activities, succession planning programmes typically include the provision of practical, tailored work experience relevant for future senior or key roles.
Through your succession planning process, you recruit superior employees, develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and prepare them for advancement or promotion into ever more challenging roles in your organization. Actively pursuing succession planning ensures that employees are constantly developed to fill each needed role in your organization.
As your organization expands, loses key employees, provides promotional job opportunities and increases sales, your succession planning guarantees that you have employees on hand ready and waiting to fill new roles.
All organizations, no matter their size, need succession planning. While it is less likely that you will have potential successors for every role in a ten person company, you can minimally cross-train. This will keep the mission on track if a key employee leaves.
Many companies have not introduced the concept of succession planning in their organizations. Others plan informally and verbally for succession for key roles. By this process, for example, Eric is identified as the strongest player on Mary's team so he is likely to succeed Mary when she is promoted or leaves.
The advantage to a more formalized system is that there is more of a commitment to groom and develop Eric so that he is ready to take over.
Organizationally, it allows all managers to know who the key employees are in all areas of the organization. This allows them to consider strong players when any key role opens up.
Effective succession planning brings advantages for both employers and employees and it's worth your time.
Advantages for employees include these:
Advantages for employers include these:
Effective, proactive succession planning leaves your organization well prepared for all contingencies. Successful succession planning builds bench strength.
To develop the employees you need for your succession plan, you can use such practices as lateral moves, assignment to special projects, team leadership roles, and both internal and external training and development opportunities.
Through your succession planning process, you also retain superior employees because they appreciate the time, attention, and development that you are investing in them. Employees are motivated and engaged when they can see a career path for their continued growth and development. To effectively do succession planning in your organization, you must identify the organization’s long-term goals. You must hire superior staff.
You need to identify and understand the developmental needs of your employees. You must ensure that all key employees understand their career paths and the roles they are being developed to fill. You need to focus resources on key employee retention. You need to be aware of employment trends in your area to know the roles you will have a difficult time filling externally