5 Things leaders must know about succession planning

A masterclass in nuturing your next geneation of business leaders
Richard LeCount

Any entrepreneur (no matter where they are in their business journey) should always have one eye on the future. 

The very nature of business means that talent will come and go and it's up to you as a leader to understand how these roles (including your own!) may evolve over time.

Some of the roles within the business will be more crucial than others, that said, no role can be left vacant without some means to replace or evolve the role.

In this piece, we will explain succession planning and the 5 ways that you can prepare for these changes moving forward.

1: Communicate your choice

It’s one thing scouting a potential candidate to fill a role within the business, but it’s equally important to tell them. Although that may seem obvious, recent research suggests that up 1 in 4 of those earmarked for a new role in a succession plan were completely unaware they had been chosen.

If your chosen successor isn’t aware of what you have planned for them, you run the risk of them seeking career advancement within another business.

Letting the person know what you have planned for them and explaining the role, can open up a dialogue in which they can let you know how interested they are in the position, and how you can improve and develop it.

2: Be open where possible

Creating a succession plan is often fraught with difficulty, so it’s important that while you need to try to be as open as possible, some things should remain confidential.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who needs to know the plan?
  • When do they need to know?
  • What information can be freely shared?
  • What information should remain confidential?

This helps to balance your need to be open, but also keeps the most important information behind closed doors.

3: Keep selection fair

One of the most important factors of succession planning is trying to keep your team happy. The higher the position on the pyramid, the harder it is to avoid internal strife. This is why it’s so important to devise a formal selection process.

How you do this may largely depend on the size of the business, for bigger businesses you may wish to officially announce the role formally to give everyone an equal opportunity to put themselves forward.

For a smaller business, it may be advisable to confidentially allow two or three employees that fit the desired criteria to apply.

4: Show the avenues for progression

Creating an open and continually evolving succession plan means that you have a clear and transparent means for your employees to develop and progress within the business.

This gives all of your employees the opportunity to understand where they potentially fit into the succession planning and what options might be available for the future of their career.

In fact, the latest statistics show more than 60% of employees questioned in a recent survey claimed that they’d feel significantly more engaged if their employer had laid out an effective succession plan.

5: Be open to changes 

A succession plan strategy should never be viewed as a one and done plan, it’s one that must be reviewed over time as plans are actioned, or indeed as they change.

Things will change unexpectedly in business, so it’s important that you sit down with appropriate people to understand what is necessary going forward.

That could be that the person you had chosen to take over your own role has left the business, or someone that has just been promoted doesn’t fit the position as either of you had hoped.

It could also be that your business has just developed in a different direction and the original roles you thought you’d have to fill no longer need direct replacements. This could also open up the possibility of additional, more specialised roles that you’ll need to create and fill as time goes on.

A frequent review, such as every six months, or even annually, is ideal to keep everyone who needs to know, abreast of all the changes within the business as they develop.

Richard LeCount is an experienced entrepreneur and the Founder and Managing Director of usbmakers.com

Written by
Richard LeCount
Written by
December 11, 2023