Succession planning is part of preparing your business for the future. Often assumed to be only important for larger companies, succession planning is, in fact, critical for startups and smaller companies.
Entrepreneurs will recognize that in a startup, the departure of a top employee can have a huge impact. Often companies only plan for the succession path of their key executives, but it is wise to consider a succession plan for virtually every key position and employee.
When considering who to include in your succession planning program, consider the following:
Your succession plan should be proactive, with employees moving into different areas for experience and training before they are needed in critical positions.
Identify the critical positions at your startup and make those the focus of your succession planning efforts. To pinpoint which roles are critical, perform a risk or impact assessment. (It helps to remember that without these roles, your startup would be unable to effectively meet its business objectives.)
By profiling key competencies for positions within your startup, your employees better understand the key responsibilities of the position. The competencies should highlight the qualifications and behavioural and technical competencies required to perform the role successfully.
Choose the talent management strategies you wish to implement to address succession planning. These strategies may span career development, training and recruitment.
Document your chosen strategies in an action plan and start to implement them. Make sure your action plan clearly defines timelines, roles and responsibilities.
To ensure that your succession planning efforts succeed, regularly monitor the effectiveness of the plan. Evaluate its related activities and adjust as need be.
Having a succession plan in place benefits your startup. It builds a framework for:
Not having a succession plan can lead to difficulties for your startup. The pitfalls may include:
Ideally, a succession plan should be planned years in advance of expected needs. To properly train a successor, a company needs sufficient time to expose their top talent to the full spectrum of opportunities within the company, as well as any external education and experience required.
If designed and implemented well, succession planning can bring peace of mind to a senior management team and its plan for future leadership.