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May 27, 2022 David Malmborg

The Definition of Succession Planning and How HR Leaders are Approaching It

Insights from the HR Executive Brain Trust

Succession planning isn’t just for large companies. In this article, we walk through the definition of succession planning and what HR leaders are doing today to improve their succession planning process.

This blog post is inspired by a conversation on the definition of succession planning and succession planning strategies at our HR Executive Brain Trust. You can watch the conversation below:

What is the definition of succession planning?

One of our Brain Trust attendees defined succession planning as: “To ensure that critical roles continue to be performed in the event of a sudden departure or disability.”

Succession planning isn’t a one-and-done deal; it’s an ongoing process of identifying and developing top talent to prepare them to move up the ladder down the road.

Traditionally, large organizations put a lot more time and resources into succession planning. Small companies can benefit from succession planning as well, especially as they scale.

Succession plans and employee development shouldn’t just be for top talent and future executives, though. Succession planning can include a culture of self-development throughout the entire organization. One HR leader in our HR Brain Trust group mentioned that during the succession season at their company, they encourage all employees to take eight hours for their own personal self-development. One leader mentioned, “All employees still deserve development, even if they aren’t part of a succession plan.”

With the Great Resignation, some HR departments are identifying multiple successors for one role, or divvying one role up to multiple people.

How often should succession planning be done?

One HR executive said that their business conducts succession planning two times per year during business seasons that aren’t as busy. Another HR leader said they do succession planning once each year.

It all depends on the organization and how many executive positions there are.

As the company matures, more and more people will become a part of the succession plan.

Common steps in the succession planning process

Here are five simple steps for your company’s succession plan.

  1. Determine company goals and challenges for the next few years
  2. Figure out the crucial positions that will need to be filled
  3. Identify skill sets and competencies that are required for those job roles to be completed effectively
  4. Evaluate and identity top talent and potential successors that meet those requirements
  5. Ensure that current executives teach future successors about the role and document important processes

For more on succession plans, you can watch the full conversation on succession planning below:

 

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