The Power of Succession Planning to Provide Career Paths

Meet Jim. According to one of the CEOs that we work with, “Jim is the perfect case study for why we need Succession Planning”.

You might assume from reading this quote that Jim’s company was caught off guard by his retirement announcement. However, it actually comes from a client referring to a younger high-potential employee that left the company two years prior.

There are probably people like Jim at your company that are engaged and motivated, but can’t see clear career paths for growth within the organization. In Jim’s case, the next ‘rung of the ladder’ was occupied by someone not planning on leaving anytime soon. Because of this, Jim saw no opportunity for growth for the foreseeable future – so he left to find that opportunity elsewhere. Jim went to work for a contractor of his former employer, which further serves as a constant reminder of what they lost.

Succession Planning and the Path

When discussing the reasons why Jim left the company, it is clear to each member of the executive team that he left because there was no clear career path forward. When your top employees face a boss who has no plans to leave and a company that lacks development plans for their high performers, those employees are likely to experience a lot of career ambiguity. This can lead to your best talent becoming flight risks because they can’t see a future path for their career.

So, How Does Succession Planning Help Build Career Paths?

  • Starts a Dialogue

The first thing a mature Succession Process does is create the structure for development conversations with your top talent. Consistently discussing where we see the employee and where they see themselves creates a foundation to build their development path.

  • Outlines Intentions

While the conversations above are critical, they are meaningless unless we take intentional action. The core of any formal Succession Plan should include a roadmap for identifying development opportunities for employee and company needs. Your plan should also have an intentional approach for closing those gaps.

  •  Identifies Meaningful Development Opportunities

Frequent dialogue and an intentional approach to development will help identify meaningful growth opportunities for top talent. While the ultimate goal of Succession is to have talent ready to meet any future needs, that road is paved with development opportunities. These opportunities are the best way to get people ready. Additionally, they keep top talent engaged with new challenges and responsibilities when new roles are not immediately available.

What We Can Learn from Jim

Jim’s story came up during one of our Succession sessions. Three executives listed him at the top of their Succession Benches, even though he no longer works for the company. They offered Jim one of the roles he had clearly wanted before leaving, but couldn’t convince him to return. Despite this, he remains one of their best candidates, which is why Jim is the perfect reason for Succession Planning. Jim is a clear example of what we risk losing in the absence of Succession. In the case of our client, finding another Jim proves much more difficult than keeping him.

How SIGMA Can Help

At SIGMA, we want to help your company be more effective and proactive with a good succession plan. Our Launch Series will deliver your company a personalized succession plan in just 30 DAYS with less than 8 hours of time from your senior leadership team. For more information on our SIMPLE Succession ProcessLaunch Series, or Succession Planning solutionscontact us and learn more about how we can help your organization plan for the future.