When key staff move on, they take valuable experience with them, and whether departures are expected or unforeseen, saying goodbye inevitably causes some disruption to business operations.
Founts of knowledge, pragmatic go-getters, inspirational leaders - whatever shape or form your prized personnel take, replacing them is rarely an easy task. However, implementing a forward-thinking succession plan will minimise the negative impact of exits, while also motivating your next generation of star performers.
Making alternative arrangements while talent serve their notice simply isn’t enough, as hurried handovers result in skill shortages and wisdom going to waste. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, your HR processes require serious TLC.
In athletics, relay races are notably faster than individual events over the same distance; the current men’s 4x100m world record is seven seconds quicker than the individual 400m time.
Logic dictates this would be the case, as four sprinters working together are naturally more efficient, giving their all during individual legs and training hard to perfect the art of smooth handovers.
Meanwhile, the lone runner eventually loses pace and burns out.
This is why ‘passing the baton’ is such a fitting analogy for succession planning; teamwork makes the dream work, and striving toward shared goals is crucial for sustained success.
The sudden departure of senior staff is bound to rock the boat, but if your management team is succession savvy, fresh blood will be waiting in the wings, ready to be called into action.
A solid succession strategy inspires confidence, ensuring customers, clients, investors and staff hear the same unifying message: “We’re sorry to see ‘x’ go, but we’re delighted to promote ‘y’ into their new role. It’s business as usual and we’re excited about the future.”
Being able to act quickly and elevate talent from within negates the hurdle of hiring outside replacements, safeguarding business continuity and paving the way for speedy transitions.
Of course, the Opus team will always be here to help you recruit the right people, but it goes without saying that progressively moving experienced staff up the internal ladder makes sense.
Operating without a succession plan, on the other hand, will see you constantly chasing your tail, trying to plug gaps as and when they appear. Furthermore, prolonged periods of uncertainty could see stakeholders lose faith, either taking their business elsewhere or jumping ship to join rivals.
Without a clear structure in place, senior vacancies can easily become contentious issues, leading to power grabs, rushed, misguided appointments and potential resentment. Quite the opposite of a synchronised organisation running like clockwork.
Nurturing high-potential talent is fundamental to long-term success, and laying out clear pathways for career progression will naturally boost productivity.
By identifying and mentoring those who could be next in line for key positions, you’ll be issuing a vote of confidence that will steer them in the right direction, building morale and benefiting the business.
HR managers should constantly look to upskill staff in this manner, as this increases the availability of those ready to take on greater responsibilities when the time comes.
Letting those earmarked for success know you appreciate their work and you think they have a bright future will also aid your retention programme. Everyone likes to feel valued, and investing in employee development pays dividends, with individuals working hard to prove themselves worthy of promotion.
Achieving such loyalty can stimulate continued growth, as ambitious future leaders are empowered to demonstrate their qualities.
Regularly giving the next generation opportunities to work alongside and learn from senior staff provides a solid platform to hit the ground running once opportunities present themselves, whether to cover short-term emergencies or on a permanent basis.
This also prevents any gaps in knowledge, as the apprentice will have ample time to learn the ropes. Aside from stability, though, fresh insight into the way things are done means a different perspective, which invariably means new ideas.
It’s easy for seasoned professionals to become a little stuck in their ways, but welcoming input from high-calibre talent can lead to refined processes and potential opportunities for business growth.
Staff turnover is part and parcel of business life, and talented people will naturally come and go. However, incorporating a succession plan into your overall talent strategy means you’ll be well-placed to strive forward.
As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail, and being proactive about the future will help ensure you don’t drop the baton.