“Succession planning is critical for an organization's long-term success, yet it's a task that's often overlooked,” says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “By taking proactive steps to identify and develop future leaders, a manager's departure is a workable issue instead of an imminent crisis,” Reed said in a press release.
Reed added that succession planning is beneficial for everyone involved. “Successors are given the opportunity to build their skills, often boosting loyalty to the company in the process, and executives are able to delegate more responsibilities,” he said.
Robert Half Technology offers the following five tips on finding and grooming a successor:
- Start early. It can take time to identify and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role, so begin the process early. Even if you doubt you'll need a replacement anytime soon, preparing someone to assume your duties creates a safety net in the event of an unforeseen absence or extended leave.
- Keep an open mind. While the obvious successor may be your second in command, don't overlook other promising employees. Look for candidates who best display the skills necessary to excel in the role—including both strong technical aptitude and leadership abilities—regardless of title.
- Share the vision. Include prospective managers in strategy discussions to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the company and its goals.
- Make it ongoing. Provide regular feedback to proteges so they can continue to progress and meet expectations.
- Take a trial run. A vacation is a good time to have a potential successor assume some of your responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a greater role.