Caroline Wilcher, Recruitment Director at Ashfield UK, explains how a succession planning strategy is essential to identify the leaders of the future within your business and create sustainable growth.
No matter the industry, all businesses face constant pressure to build and maintain a strong, sustainable leadership pipeline. Therefore, as a critical element to the long-term success of your organisation, succession planning should not be taken lightly. Having a clear approach will offer several benefits to employers and employees alike.
In simple terms, succession planning is an objective, unbiased exercise in future-proofing your business. By preparing tomorrow’s leaders today, you can quickly and seamlessly move high achievers into new roles as and when employees are promoted, retire or leave the business.
For many companies, the immediate pressures of daily meetings, targets and client demands mean that succession planning isn’t a priority or, at best, is left to HR to deal with. But while your HR professionals may be very well equipped to deal with this type of strategic planning, we have a slightly different take.
At Ashfield, we believe it’s the responsibility of all leaders and managers to attract, develop and keep the best people in order to move our business forward. They are the ones who really know their teams and divisional demands inside and out.
That’s not to say strategic succession planning isn’t challenging. Any successful business knows that it’s important to plan for the future and many of these decisions will be financially driven. It’s easy to crunch the numbers, such as the amount of people and desks you’ll need next year, but it’s much harder to quantify the investment needed to develop the best individuals for those roles.
It’s important to realise that, ultimately, it’s the people who will bring value to individual positions and, by nature, to the wider business. This means the smartest move is always to invest in your high-performing employees. By doing so you’ll maintain a stable and constant pipeline to keep your business on the right path.
5 ways that succession planning has an impact on employees
- They’ll feel valued
It may be obvious, but don’t underestimate the power of employees who feel valued and appreciated. The star people you’ve got earmarked for future success are also likely to be your most ambitious. They’re the ones who stay a little longer each day, who take on extra responsibilities, who seek to add value wherever they can. They feel they’re investing in your business, so you need to be ready to invest in them. They’ll repay you in the long run.
- They’ll gain a sense of purpose
Everyone wants to feel that what they do matters, that it contributes to a team or business goal or makes a difference to a client. But no matter how altruistic or how much of a team player someone appears to be, they will have their own personal and professional goals.And while there will be those individuals in the team who wear their ambition on their sleeves, there’ll be others who keep their talents and professional goals closer to their chests. The best businesses embrace diversity, so by encouraging open conversations with your teams, you’ll understand what each individual wants and has the potential to offer. It may even surprise you what some of your team are capable of.By recognising each individual’s personal goals and offering them the training and development they want, you’ll be empowering your people with a real sense of purpose and demonstrating that there’s a long-term career path for them, here with you.
- They’ll be prepared
No matter how great your culture or how attractive your bonus scheme, it’s a fact that employees leave or move up the ladder. A business or a team has to be bigger than any one person – or handful of people – if it’s to have long-term sustainability. After all, you don’t want teams or accounts falling apart when someone moves.Through robust succession planning that identifies talented individuals at all stages of their careers, you can have a continuous pipeline of people ready and able to step in and step up. Who knows, they may even be better than the star leader they’re replacing.
- They’ll live your values
Values are easy to come up with, but hard to ingrain. Succession planning isn’t just about developing skills and talent, it’s also a way to ensure that those leading your business in the future are fully aligned to your core principles.That doesn’t mean creating a pipeline of clones. It means ensuring that high-potential employees mature, develop their skills and move into more powerful roles, where your values are an intrinsic, inseparable part of everything they do.If your values are to permeate all levels of your organisation, then you’re going to need inspiring leaders who are fully on board with what you stand for.
- They’ll stay
This, of course, is what it all comes down to. It’s completely unsustainable for any business to invest thousands of pounds in finding, recruiting and employing the best people, only for them to leave and thrive elsewhere – quite possibly with a competitor.Ambitious employees want their skills and potential to be developed. They want to climb the ladder and they want the rewards that come with it.Having a clear and successful succession plan demonstrates to current and future employees that their talents will be recognised, their skills will be developed, and they will have every opportunity to fulfil their potential with you.