Business & Startups

Succession Planning: Top Tips and Free Template |

How to do effective succession planning

There is no single ‘right’ way to do succession planning. The best strategy depends on the unique make-up of your organisation – particularly if you are a founder who is leaving the business you started.

For example, if you are a very hands-on leader who looks after multiple responsibilities, you need to choose whether to spread these duties across multiple individuals or departments.

That said, here is a general, three-step outline of the steps to follow to keep the succession planning process as smooth as possible:

Step 1: Identify the critical roles in your business that need to be prioritised

To begin succession planning, reflect on the roles and responsibilities that need to exist to protect business continuity. Then, take the information you’ve compiled and use it to create ‘job profiles’.

These describe jobs that require specific licences or qualifications, like an accountant, or they might be famously difficult to hire for, like a software engineer. Either way, you should have a good understanding of what each role entails so you can more easily locate a suitable replacement.

Now is also a good moment to think about new business challenges that might be waiting in the wings in 2023. For example, given the current labour shortages, a recruitment manager might be a critical hire this year if you work in an industry with high turnover.

Step 2: Identify employees that have the most potential to succeed

In the free ClickUp succession plan template, type up a shortlist of employees that could succeed the current post-holder. Remember to think long-term; they don’t have to be ready to lead the nation tomorrow morning.

Using ClickUp’s ready-made columns, list factors that might influence each candidate’s suitability like their start date or industry specialism. Other relevant notes, like their supervisor, can also be added.

Finally, use these criteria to allocate a ‘succession potential’ score to each person ranging from ‘High’ to ‘Low’. Don’t worry about discarding low-potential employees. They might have moved dramatically up the scale in a year’s time.

Step 3: Develop a training program to help talent step into their chosen roles

No-one is born to be Chief Financial Officer. Potential successors need long-term support to reach that level of knowledge. As the fourth step, highlight areas for growth within each worker and outline a strategy to kickstart career development.

Designing a ‘hands-on’ training program is the best way to achieve suitability. For example, you might choose to instruct individuals to shadow various departments to understand the business on a granular level. Or, connect them with a mentor.

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