Recently, the Queen publicly announced her greatest wish was for her son, Prince Charles to take her place on the throne as Head of the Commonwealth. This in a basic sense is succession planning. Before the need to take over, she has identified the next leader ensuring a smooth transition, planned and without fuss or panic. The Queen has shown her respect to the Commonwealth by communicating her plans for leadership and leaving nothing to rumour or debate.
For business leaders, this is a perfect example of how to succession plan. Identify your future leaders within the business early. Assess what skill gaps they have with reference to where you want them to be. Are they on board with your plans or are they perfectly happy doing what they’re doing? Your plan needs to be flexible and regularly reviewed – people leave and the business will change, so don’t set your plan in stone!
There are a number of major factors contributing to the increasing need for succession planning. Baby boomer retirements are on the rise, leaving managerial gaps within businesses. Organisational restructures have resulted in middle managers being made redundant, leaving newer managers without the skills to move up. The current, somewhat brutal competitiveness of our economy is unforgiving of businesses who do not succession plan effectively.
By implementing a clear succession plan, you will enable a smooth transition for employees through the business. It will also minimise disruption to the business which in most cases, could damage employee morale and consequently, sales/clients/customers. Being proactive rather than reactive to a succession issue ensures your employees trust you have everything under control and they can positively focus on their jobs instead of wondering what if’s and stimulating unconstructive gossip. So do as the Queen does, and plan your next leaders now!