Is your organization ready to pass the baton to it's next group of leaders?

Is your organization ready to pass the baton to it’s next group of leaders?



The plan, the bench, the next best replacement, is a constant struggle for all managers in every industry.  We don’t want to be caught in the rears when we have a crucial role and no one to fill it.  Something that we in recruiting are starting to notice are professionals trending away from staying a whole twenty years with one company.  Professionals are staying with companies for two reasons, opportunity and education.  A trend is emerging; their life expectancies with companies are less than ten years and often times closer to two or three.  In higher turnover industries like Hospitality and Food Service averages are significantly less.  If you are keeping an active succession plan it needs to be dynamic and malleable. Jumpstart:HR can help.

The younger workforce that we are now hiring have two main motivators, opportunity and education.  An entire sector of Human Resources is devoted to succession planning which is especially important for small businesses.  Small businesses suffer the most from not having a plan because picking new hires and keeping good ones are key to keeping their healthy business running when a key member of the organization exits through either finding a new job, retirement or death.  A key factor for engaging top young talent is knowing how to motivate and develop the younger generation. When doing this, both the organization and employee thrive.

Parts of the Plan

The plan can be as elaborate or simple as you wish for it to be.  A solid piece of advice, as the developer you need to keep the corporate culture in mind.  You may need to formulate a simple plan that is dynamic and evolving to meet the changing needs of your business and the business climate.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is a detailed plan listing the steps for development courses, leadership initiatives, or graded responsibilities.

Identify, Develop, and Challenge are three basic steps in forming a succession plan.  As the developer of the program, you need to create steps and criteria for identifying employees with potential to grow in the company.  Growth falls into the usual categories of assuming more responsibility, learning opportunities, or business ventures.  Part of this first step is knowing what kind of growth needs to be encouraged to be successful in the position.  Intuitively we know that we trying to create an environment fostering success, but it need to come out of the ethereal and made a sub-goal of this process.

Developing the employee is on only one aspect of the second step.  This is an opportunity for the organization to reevaluate the position as well.  It might be this position lends itself to administrative or sales support, or the position has evolved.  Situations will come up in every company where what someone was hired to do, they are no longer doing.  Not through fault of their own but rather the evolution of the position.  Cases like this give human resources and the supervisor a chance to review the job description and change where needed.  Remember HR 101, everything starts with the job description.

Development of the employee is the center stage of this plan.  Giving them the chance to go obtain higher education, college courses, specialized certificate programs, or workshops broadens their horizons and deepens their value.  These opportunities also aides the organization engendering employee engagement and commitment to the company, increase retention.  Incentivizing the classes, through either tuition reimbursement or recognition at employee reviews or newsletters, reinforces the company’s commitment to training and development.

Secondary forms of development fall under situational, or on the job experiences, where the employee gives their opinion, after the fact, as a learning opportunity.  These situational learning opportunities are cheaper and do not need to be incentivized and usually stay with the employee longer.  However, it is not something that cannot be planned on paper.  Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball showing problems you might face in the future.  If they did exist, business would easy and we can all go lay on the beach!

The develop step can also be thought of as a continual job interview for the next position.  If there is a stage in the development that raises red flags finding them early makes the difference.  The difference is between finding a new way for the employee to develop successfully into the new role or stopping the process, abandoning their potential with the company.  Understand that if this occurs their possibility for retention for the company will be in jeopardy.

Lastly, challenging the employee through increasing responsibilities evolves the development from the situation to the practice.  We all know there is a difference between the knowing a thing and doing a thing.  Through increasing the responsibilities the newly developed employee has, while removing the menial tasks, you are bringing them into the position.  And you are challenging them to assimilate what they know and practice.  This is the last step to full succession into the available position.

Each of these three steps depend each other.  If you identify the candidate whose potential matches the position, the development becomes an easy process.  A thorough development including education an opportunity changes the challenge of assimilating to a rewarding task.  Once the assimilation of the knowledge and the practice is complete, the employee is fully in the position.  The end of a process that was simple and malleable or long and detailed.  Either style needs to fit these simple steps within the context of their company.


A successful plan will complete goals that we know at least on a subconscious level.  Whether simple or detailed, plans will increase employee retention, employee engagement, and counters the costs of outside hiring of higher levels of management for the organization.  Hiring will always remain a key point in staffing.  Staffing focuses on the forest while employee development sees the trees.

If your company is in need of support in developing a succession plan, Jumpstart:HR can help. We provide a holistic view of not only talent management and recruiting but a true appreciation for the impact that corporate culture, budgetary constraints and business objectives play on developing a sound succession plan. Learn more about our on-going service plans and contact us today.


This post is brought to you by Richard Ludvigsen (@HRmagician), Jumpstart:HR HR Generalist and HR Project Manager. Connect with him on LinkedIn.