How critical is your job? Is it viewed as a key position? If you left the company or all of a sudden got hit by that proverbial bus that seems to be going around the world taking people out, would the company be able to keep moving forward without losing a step? Have you even thought about it?
If you don't know whether or not a position (whether it's yours or one that reports to you) is key, I recommend that you start with an analysis of positions that if left vacant would not allow you to meet your business needs. Ask yourself these questions about positions you believe could be "key":
If the answered "yes" to either question, it's probably a key position. As a result, you need to think about an appropriate succession plan for that post.
But is succession planning really important? Is it worth the time and effort? Isn't succession planning built into the organization already? Isn't that why you have vice presidents, directors and managers in place or, as is often the case with small businesses, a son or daughter waiting to take the wings once dad retires (or gets hit by that bus)?
All you have to do to understand the value of succession planning today is look at Wall Street. More and more, Wall Street analysts are putting true market value on a company's succession plan. GE, PepsiCo and IBM are just a few of the companies that have benefited in the market due to strong recognized succession plans at the "C" level. And while large companies have set the pace for formalizing succession plans, it's really the small to medium-sized companies that need it the most.
So, what does a successful succession plan look like? Once you identify an heir, are you done? Of course, the answer is "no". Succession planning is a dynamic initiative that can change quickly with the natural movement of employees. In fact, succession planning is more than a plan, it's a systematic process. The reality is that most companies do not have a sufficient process in place to ensure that succession planning is always current and relevant. These companies end up going through a tumultuous time when key positions turn over.
Companies that have the right plan in place share the following qualities.MAKE A COMMITMENT
Finally, you need to ensure that your succession planning is aligned with your mission and core values so that you identify successors who are on the same page with your company strategy and culture.