Strategies for developing an early succession plan

Is your organization’s senior leadership team headed toward retirement? What stress will this place on your organization? Are you prepared?

It’s incredibly important to answer these questions and begin developing a succession plan for your business, whether your leadership team is nearing retirement or not. Early planning is the key to success, so consider the following guidance as you begin thinking about the future:

Start developing leaders from within

This strategy can take two different paths:

The first option is to identify professionals already in your organization who could step into a leadership role. Regardless of how close your current leaders are to retirement, grooming future leaders takes time. This also demonstrates to your developing employees that you are invested in their futures.

You also have the option of hiring new talent from outside the organization, who might not be ready for immediate leadership but could be in the future. Include your current leadership team in the hiring process and confirm they’re looking out for individuals who could become future leaders. Consider and discuss questions like: Does this individual have the professional pedigree we’re seeking? Would she enhance our culture? Can she lead others in our organization?

Don’t rule out hires from outside your industry

Take a step back and focus on finding the right talent instead of restricting hires to your industry. If you’re impressed with a candidate’s experience and can see them adding value to the organization as a leader, the industry part of the equation can be taught. Bringing these types of people into your organization sooner rather than later will only benefit your succession plan.

Implement a mentorship program

If you’re going to develop leaders from within – whether veteran team members or recent hires – you can ensure a smooth transition through formalized mentoring. Even if everyone on your leadership team is far from retirement, building these mentor-mentee relationships early will give the organization more options when colleagues eventually phase themselves out.

Reaching out to high schools and colleges

Internships can get young people interested in your organization, and community outreach in local colleges and high schools is a great way to educate them about your industry and share upcoming internship opportunities. Developing a community ambassador role in your organization dedicated to performing this kind of outreach is a solid strategy to recruit interns and keep your community in the know about what your company does and who it’s looking for.

You should begin to evaluate your organization’s leadership on an annual basis to start planning for the future. Every organization needs a succession plan, and it’s never too soon to start building yours.