Succession planning is the process of preparing employees for future roles to support continuous business functioning. Succession planning is a long-term, strategic investment that buffers both large and medium-sized businesses against inevitable future disruptions or sudden job vacancies. Usually spanning one to three years, succession planning involves training and educating employees so they can assume new positions with confidence and poise.

Succession planning is like training a competitive basketball team. When a first-string player gets injured or needs a break, a bench-player can jump in as a replacement, so the game can seamlessly continue. Similarly, HR leaders train employees to fill various positions in the company, supporting smooth functioning during employee departures, transfers, or promotions.

Why should HR leaders care about succession planning?

Filling the talent pipeline with trained employees can benefit a business, enabling it to:

  • Decrease hiring expenses  
  • Reduce time to hire and time to fill
  • Support continuous workflow despite disruptions
  • Promote engagement and retention 

Succession planning also benefits employees, boosting their confidence, involvement, and motivation as they strengthen their competencies and enhance their careers.  

What can HR leaders do to implement effective succession planning?

HR leaders must ensure that the succession plan satisfies company needs and employee career objectives. The following steps can promote an effective succession plan that promotes employee-employer alignment: 

  • Design a strategy. The strategy should outline the objectives and method, so HR leaders can: determine which jobs to train for, the individuals to include in the pipeline, the training materials and resources, different educational approaches to use, the desired outcome of the program, the budget, and the timeline.  
  • Begin with a trial program. Instead of jumping into the water unprepared, HR leaders can get their feet wet by initiating an experimental succession plan. This introductory program can integrate a smaller pool of individuals as HR tests the waters. 
  • Evaluate employee competencies. By assessing employee skills and knowledge, HR leaders can make educated, smart decisions regarding filling positions. 
  • Implement a learning and development program. A learning and development program nurtures a growth-oriented culture. Integrating various learning methods into the work culture enables employees to receive the training they need to assume new positions.  
  • Assess the results. HR leaders should use key succession planning metrics to analyze the program’s effectiveness following its completion.  

How does succession planning improve company culture?

Preparing for the unavoidable changes within the workplace through succession planning can help maintain a steady business. Succession planning empowers employees, elevating their competencies, confidence, motivation, and loyalty. The organization, as a result, benefits from its high-performing, knowledgeable, and engaged personnel. Investing in employee training and career planning strengthens the flow of growth and productivity, contributing to a positive and robust company culture.