Succession planning – are you prepared?

At any given moment, for a myriad of reasons, a key member of your staff could suddenly announce that they are departing the company, leaving you with a critical role to fill. Here Julian Hilton, Regional Managing Director of Jelf Insurance Brokers gives businesses advice on ways of making sure that your business is geared up for any eventuality.

We often talk about the physical threats that a business might face such as fire, flooding or theft but we don’t address the issues that can arise from the loss of a vital member of your team be it through retirement, parental leave, illness or resignation.

However much you plan or protect your business, there will always be factors outside your control, people will always leave, but what is in your control is how you prepare for the unexpected and how you deal with the issue when it arises.

Traditionally, succession planning has always been associated with the very top levels of a business and while this is still crucial, it is something that is worth considering across the board – it is vital that you don’t leave your company open to a ‘single point of failure’ whereby one person leaving could have a detrimental impact.

If someone in a senior role leaves the business, and you don’t have strong people coming through the ranks, you can find that you face the problem of having to recruit externally, which can be both expensive and extremely time consuming.

The first, most important step that you can take when protecting your business is to analyse your business plan and align your succession with planning the strategic goals of the organisation.

It is a well-established fact that employees are more motivated when they can see a path for career progression and if they understand what they will need to do to achieve the next step, they are more likely to be proactive in their development.

Each role should then be given its own job description and a full list of competencies. These should be available for anyone who might want to move up the career ladder so that they can clearly see what they will need to do to reach their goals.

Training is crucial – very rarely do people move up the ladder without some form of training, be it formal or informal. If you don’t feel there are any specific training courses tailored to the needs of your operation you can introduce mentoring and project-based learning experiences instead. Members of staff who feel valued as part of a company’s long-term plans and know that their employer is investing in them, are likely to be a happy and loyal workforce, which time and time again, is a business’ greatest asset.