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There’s no question of the importance of having a succession plan in place, especially when unplanned departures occur: a good succession plan enables the business to continue uninterrupted, with ongoing delivery of service to members and confidence from employees and customers alike.
Building a successful succession plan rests on these five simple
Step 1. Define/clarify the business strategy. Best practice suggests all
organizations should have a clearly defined strategic plan, as is the case with most of FCCS clients. The business strategy is also the first place to start succession planning, with leadership exhibiting the needed skills to support the strategic direction of the organization. That strategy, whether it be geared toward growth, technological expansion or consolidation, should inform key decisions and discussion that are part of the succession planning process.
Step 2. Define the necessary skill sets. Based on the established strategy,
executive leaders should define the competencies or skill sets that will be needed at key levels in the organization. In addition to functional proficiency, where exceptional skills are to be expected, but on leadership and managerial skills, such as establishing strong relationships, motivating others or setting the vision.
Step 3. Observation. Managers throughout the organization need to be charged to assess their team members against the desired skill sets that will be necessary for career growth, exploring their professional goals and interests, and creating development plans to close any identified gaps. These conversations around competencies and an agreement as to what’s important for career progression makes the process transparent to everyone involved. And because goals and attitudes can change over time, this should be an ongoing conversation revisited most often every six months.
Step 4. Talent review. Succession planning for key positions within the organization ideally involves the senior management team discussing the observations made by the first-level and senior managers regarding individual team members’ career trajectory. This provides the opportunity for broader input on each individual’s strengths and weaknesses as they’re experienced outside the immediate team, and can also identify new career opportunities in different areas of the cooperative. It’s important to note that these conversations require the utmost in confidentiality, dignity and respect for the individuals.
Step 5. Self-assessment. Any succession plan should include metrics against which performance will be assessed. The first questions is, “Are we doing it, and have we put the process in place?” More measurable goals can include having a development plan in place for every employee or filling half of management positions through promotion rather than outside hiring. Longer term, leadership should ensure that the process continues to meet the cooperative’s human capital needs. The best succession plans are based firmly on business strategy and a clear definition of necessary leadership attributes, and rely on an honest assessment of employee capabilities and development needs.
To talk about how FCCS can support your
succession planning, contact Jay Lux at 651.982.4568 or via email.
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