Practical Tips for New Leaders: Succession Planning

This is part six of a 12-part series.

Successfully leading a team can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a professional’s career. However, addressing a diverse group effectively can be difficult for new leaders. From open communication and recognition to delegation and empowerment to self-awareness and empathy, there are a plethora of leadership arrows professionals must carry in their quivers to be successful. So during this yearlong series, we will examine 12 areas of focus and reveal practical tips to help new leaders in some of the most important aspects of leadership. Sixth up: succession planning.

Succession Planning

To ensure sustained success, organizations need to maintain a full talent pipeline for future leaders. One way to do this is by creating a focus on succession planning. Defined, this is the act of identifying and developing top talent within an organization who have the ability to replace present leaders should they retire or leave their position. Without a specific plan in place and potential leaders on deck, businesses may be setting themselves up to experience a gap in command causing a decline in productivity. With so much riding on succession planning, one would think most companies have a plan in place; however, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), only 35% of organizations have a succession plan. As a new leader, learning how to properly create a succession plan can be beneficial throughout your career.

  1. Identify Future Leaders

According to the study by ATD, 89% of organizations that participate in succession planning cited identifying and preparing future leaders as the number one reason. There are several keys to identifying individuals who have the potential for future leadership, including looking for soft skills, organizational buy-in, self-starters, big-picture thinkers, etc. Each employee has specific tools that can be helpful for leadership. Look for the individuals who work hard to help the team thrive and tend to put the company on their backs to ensure success.

  1. Focus on Professional Development

Another top reason ATD found for businesses creating plans was for internal employee advancement (72%). Career advancement not only helps with filling the future leadership pipeline, but it can also help retain and develop top talent within an organization. According to a recent study, 74% of workers felt that they aren’t achieving their full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities. And with that, many chose to leave for organizations that have a culture of professional growth. By creating a plan to show employees the steps they need to take and training they need to receive to move up the ladder, highly sought-out talent may be more inclined to stay with your organization.

  1. Mentor and Coach Talent

Finally, focus on mentoring and coaching potential future leaders. Often, employees who may be interested in developing within their current organization may remain unidentified. Regardless of how many employees you lead, prioritize having meaningful conversations with your workers on what they want within their job, and moreover, how they envision their career path at the company. Career planning can help create a focus on employees’ development, as well as give purpose and meaning to their day-to-day work. In your one-on-ones, ask your employees where they would like to see themselves in the next few years. Identify what it would take to help them get there and help coach them through a planning process. This will help you create a personal plan that will be beneficial when developing an overall organizational plan.

What are some important succession tips you’ve learned during your career? How has a focus on succession planning helped you lead a successful team? Let us know in the comments section below!

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One Response to Practical Tips for New Leaders: Succession Planning

  1. Don Truza July 6, 2021 at 8:05 am #

    I developed an “Advance Management Program” with the Business Deans of Kellogg at Northwestern University for our “High Potential Employees”..

    We adjusted the program depending on their discipline such as finance, operations, service and or quality.

    Great success.

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