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employee succession plan

How to create an effective employee succession plan

Dealing with turnover of staff is a common challenge for organisations. In order to avoid productivity and continuity breakdown every time an employee leaves, modern managers need to create succession plans. Planning for succession helps retain top talent, fill skills gaps and ensures that projects aren’t delayed when staff leave.

A survey of HR managers and assistant staff conducted by XpertHR showed that 40% of respondents did not have formal succession planning processes in their organisations. Further, 20% of respondents were not confident that their organisations had succession plans and 16% believed that their organisations were not planning to develop any succession plans.

This shows how ill prepared many organisations are for employee succession. In the highly competitive modern business environment, managers need to plan ahead in order to maintain customer service standards and productivity. Failure to do this could mean that competitors gain an edge over your organisation during your productivity downtime.

Here is how to create an effective succession plan for your human resources:

Audit all employees to kickstart your succession planning

Begin by conducting an audit of all employees to obtain information on their levels of education, knowledge and skills, areas of expertise and years of experience. This audit is the basis of your succession plan as it gives you a picture of the nature of your current manpower. This information should also include all the training and development programs that each employee has undergone, currently undergoing and those planned for the future.

Dedicate time to succession planning

One of the most common hindrances to succession planning is the failure to strike a balance between running day-to-day activities and devoting time to planning. Often times, organisations will deal with urgent matters and keep postponing time to plan. Without setting aside dedicated time for planning, no well-thought succession plan can be established. It is therefore recommended that all managers who are involved in planning make time for planning in their schedules. Further, when the organisation establishes a culture for planning, it will become a norm for management.

Allocation of ‘successors’

Armed with the information obtained from the employee audit, you can look at each job position with the current employee, and then select one or two possible successors for each position. The most suitable successors should have similar knowledge, skills and work experience as the current position holders. To make this effective, human resources staff should create a function profile, which offers a possibility of skills and knowledge that are required for each position. If the organisation does not have someone fitting the profile at present, a possible candidate is identified and grooming starts to make them suitable for the position. This should be done methodically in such a way that the current holder of the position does not feel threatened by grooming of a ‘successor’. Grooming could include taking developmental courses to become equipped with the right knowledge and necessary skills through making them perform tasks similar to those of the identified position. This can also be achieved through job rotation.

Lastly, one common mistake organisations make is creating succession plans just for managerial positions. It is important to note that every employee, no matter which level of the organisation they work in, can leave and therefore should have potential successors. Creating a plan for all levels therefore is more effective for ensuring continuity, should employees need replacement at any time.

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