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Succession Planning – Are you ready for the future?

07 June 2019 #Employment

If one of the key individuals in your company, such as a manager or someone with technical skills, was to resign tomorrow morning, would you be able to identify their successor?

This is a question that many businesses struggle to answer, with companies more likely to recruit from outside the business when vacancies arise, than look for a suitable replacement among their existing staff. Looking externally is understandable – time is often a luxury in today’s busy workplaces, with companies seeking candidates that can slot straight into the role without the need for time consuming training, and without needing to fill the vacancy the promoted person would leave behind.

However, this type of reactive recruitment has meant that succession planning is often neglected, resulting in difficulties and disruption when a member of staff moves on. An external candidate may demonstrate all of the skills for the role but could take time to understand the company’s culture and ways of working. Proactive succession planning can help a company avoid these issues. A long-term plan allows a business to spot potential vacancies early on and gives them time to train up existing members of staff to take over when the time comes. This kind of coaching and development of existing staff has many benefits. It ensures that the company has a workforce which can provide continuity and stability, which understands what the company wants and how to deliver it. It also addresses one of the key reasons for external appointments. Companies complain that it takes too long to train up internal staff, preferring instead to bring in a “ready-made” replacement. By developing the leadership skills of existing staff, it can ensure that when a vacancy arises, there is a candidate ready and waiting to assume the responsibility.

Succession planning can have the additional benefit of improving retention levels. A company that seeks to recruit for senior positions externally may send the message to existing staff that they will need to move on in order to progress, which both creates another vacancy to fill and leads to a higher turnover. By investing in the existing workforce and encouraging them to develop their leadership skills, staff will feel valued and are more likely to commit their future to the company, providing further stability.

HR has an important role to play when it comes to succession planning and can offer support to both the managers in charge of developing up and coming individuals, and the individuals themselves. It can indicate where potential gaps will arise, looking across the business to see where the planning should be focused. It can then help identify who might be a good fit for these roles in future and can work with management to create leadership programmes to prepare them.

Programmes that develop existing staff into future leaders are crucial for the long-term success of a business. Such programmes can be tailored to the business’s specific needs, and help it prepare for changes, both planned and unexpected. Many businesses find it difficult to find suitable candidates for management positions, and it becomes more difficult still when the vacancy is for senior positions. By engaging in succession planning and investing in leadership coaching for existing staff, a company can pre-empt this problem and ensure its continued success and stability for the future.

If you are interested in leadership coaching & development Forbury People can assist you. Please get in touch. 

Written by Ciara Duggan and Heather Mills

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Ciara Duggan

Ciara Duggan

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Employment team
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