As a business owner, it’s hard to imagine your company surviving without you there, taking care of the “nuts and bolts.” After all, your business is something you have likely started from the ground up. No one else could possibly understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into bringing it to life, let alone, what the company’s earnings were 10 years ago. That kind of information and industry knowledge is something only the business owner truly knows.
Despite how your business is ticking along, for your own sanity and the long-term health of your company, you need to implement a proper succession plan. This will ensure your business is properly equipped to handle the effects of change. Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere, anytime soon, and you’re not planning on immediately changing the leadership roles, a well-established succession plan is a fundamental tool that will help you stay afloat when times get tough. And let’s face it, change is inevitable. You and your team need to be able to adjust accordingly.
As the dictionary notes, a succession plan is “a process to identify and develop the individuals within your company who have the potential, skill set, and talent to fill key and/or critical organizational positions within a company.” A real succession plan expands upon this notion; it’s a strategy for the future. With such a plan in place, your company will have the necessary systems and tools to survive whatever changes or challenges may come its way.
#1 — It helps eliminate the stress of impending change
With a plan that dictates how things are organized and managed within your company, what roles need to be filled, and the responsibilities that are required for each position, you have a solid foundation for your company to fall back on when change is on the horizon. With an established set of guidelines to fall back on, much of the stress associated with the idea of change will diminish.
If you are in the process of implementing a new leader, having a logical plan in place for your new leader to comfortably and appropriately follow will have them understanding every aspect of the company. It will also ensure your new leader has earned their position in the high ranks, therefore helping to alleviate the stress of impending change for both you and your employee.
#2 — It will help your company stay afloat if disaster happens
Systems, protocols and standards put specific regulations in place that act as a buffer when the road gets rocky (as it most certainly will if your company encounters any sort of catastrophe). Thus, having a succession plan in place will enable you and your employees to weather the storm and get back on track.
#3 — It will help your business TODAY
Succession plans are not just for changes in leadership roles tomorrow—they are also used to build strong leadership skills within your company in the present. A good succession plan also keeps you accountable to your vision for your company. Therefore, it encourages you and your employees to consider the steps that need to be taken on a daily basis to produce the results you want in the future. In other words, a succession plan encourages you and your employees to constantly implement new strategies that will help achieve a larger goal or “the bigger picture.” This practice will, in turn, strengthen your company’s ability to survive daily industry changes.
#4 — It strengthens employee relationships and responsibilities
The process of devising a plan requires regular communication among your laborers, foremen/supervisors and administrative staff. All the different departments in your company should be encouraged to voice their opinion and express their needs and concerns. After all, creating and sustaining a succession plan should be a result of the combined effort of your entire company. It’s not something you can successfully go at alone.
#5 — It shows you the bigger picture
Taking the time to evaluate how your company operates on a day-to-day basis now, so you can plan for the future, opens your eyes to the bigger picture. Creating a succession plan forces you to examine all your employees, as well as their designated responsibilities, to evaluate what needs to change and what skill-sets, talents, and personality types might be required for future positions within your company.
Employees are the lifeblood of your business, so it’s important to create systems that will help them succeed and put them in tune with your goals. Ensure your performance review process is on a dependable schedule that will reward hard work and dedication. Foster a learning environment that will allow good employees to excel. If the time ever comes where your company needs to shift its focus and turn to its succession plan, those employee evaluations will help you to stay the course and steer the company in the right direction with the right people.