Get the Most from Your Organization’s Succession Plan

Good succession planning does more than prepare your organization for the effective handover of critical roles. At its best, succession planning helps a company with accomplishing goals that are broader and align with its core values. These goals also shape the company for the future. Here, you’ll find an overview of a three-step process that will help you get the most out of your succession planning initiative. 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing More with Succession

Step 1: Pick the Right Goal

Succession planning can be a powerful tool for organizations to achieve major goals because it can help narrow focus on the core values of an organization. Although good succession planning tracks progress on important indicators of succession readiness, it also allows an organization to identify other key areas they’d like to improve on that can be addressed via the succession planning initiative.

Start by considering the core values of the company and how they might be achieved with succession. For example, an organization’s values might include a commitment to employee development. Therefore, the succession plan could target the expansion of growth and learning opportunities for its workforce to reflect its employee-centered values.

Take this broad objective inspired by the organization’s values and refine it into a concrete goal that can be targeted in succession planning. We’ve covered S.M.A.R.T. goals in the context of individual performance before, but it is just as powerful when applied to organizational goals. For instance, when you take an organization’s core value of “recognizing diversity” and make it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound, it might become: “Increase the number of women and ethnic minorities in senior roles by 25% in the next 5 years.”

Step 2: Plan Your Approach

Every organization has unique advantages that it can use to support succession. Recognizing these advantages can help identify the right approach for accomplishing goals devised in the previous step. Using the goal of increasing diversity, we’ve outlined a few of these potential advantages below. We’ve also demonstrated how an organization could use them to achieve their S.M.A.R.T. goal. Consider how your organization’s resources could be used to support your own custom goals.

  • Internal talent. A company with a diverse pool of high-potential candidates can focus on developing these candidates for succession into senior roles. Cross-functional training, stretch assignments, and individual development plans are just some of the ways that an organization can build a diverse pool of qualified candidates when succession opportunities arise.  
  • Resource availability. Some companies have access to resources that allow for implementation of other major initiatives alongside succession planning. For instance, one approach is to spend the resources necessary to align your hiring practices with your succession plan. This way, the diversity of your candidate pool can be subsequently bolstered by high-potential candidates when hiring externally.
  • Leadership commitment. Leadership that is invested in the succession planning initiative can be a powerful asset. For example, a company can rely on leaders’ expertise to identify diverse candidates that might be overlooked in other parts of the process. An involved leadership team can also lend credibility to how the succession plan aligns with the organization’s core values, therefore helping the rest of the company buy in to make the initiative successful.

Step 3: Track Progress & Revise

The advantages of the previous steps in this guide are clear when it comes to assessing company progress toward the goal. A well-defined goal is easily. measured. By focusing a company’s strengths on a goal, progress is easy to observe. Still, this doesn’t mean the work will complete itself -­­ it’s important that tracking progress happens often and consistently. Consider making a specific person or team responsible for updating goal metrics, and hold them accountable to the task.

The kinds of goals that can be accomplished with succession planning can have strong and lasting positive effects on a company, for the reason that they stem from the company’s core values. However, they require a long-term investment of effort, so it might be tempting to abandon them when success does not come quickly. Instead, be honest and transparent about progress toward the goal, and re-evaluate the approach to attaining it if need be. After months of tracking and understanding goal progress, milestones can be adjusted to remain realistic. Finally, communicating that, despite setbacks, the goal reflects an essential part of the company will help keep enthusiasm and momentum for continued progress.

Striving for goals and creating change in your organization can be hard. However, if you focus on choosing a goal that is relevant and important for your company, such as working toward core values; dedicating your best resources toward attaining that goal; and tracking your progress over time, you can use succession planning as a kick-start toward a better organization.

How SIGMA Can Help

At SIGMA, we understand how to plan and implement effective succession planning. Our experienced consultants can help you get the most out of your initiative from start to finish. Visit our Launch Series page to discover how we can deliver your personalized Succession Plan in just 30 days. We also offer long-term consulting services to help ensure you have all the foundations in place for your succession initiative to succeed. Contact us for more information on our succession planning offerings.