Keep Leadership Going with Succession Planning

Far too many organizations fail to capture the job information generated by company workers and thus being able to pass it on to the next generation of workers. This strategy should be part of the business continuity efforts just like a business prepares for catastrophic events. In New Business Ideas, the author notes, “This often overlooked responsibility can weaken managerial and leadership structures disabling competitive ability, limiting intellectual capital, and innovation if not routinely addressed.”

Within every organization, the workforce generates information that makes the organization successful. It’s information on how to operate each department, certain jobs within the department, etc. As the workforce matures, they fine-tune the information until it helps operations go smoothly and ultimately keeps profitability. Some people are better at doing their tasks than others. It’s the information these types of individuals learn that works best for getting their responsibilities completed in an effective and efficient manner.

Leaders on the management team have an obligation to “capture” this type of information on paper so that it doesn’t leave when the worker leaves. How many outstanding employees retire with thousands of ideas they’ve learned over their career that no one within the organization has captured? We tend to let these individuals operate in a vacuum never thinking that what they know is so important for the company survival. But this knowledge capture won’t happen without a plan. So here’s a plan you can implement to capture the pot of gold that rests in the brain of your workers.

  1. There should be regularly spaced sessions where you review procedures critical to your operation with workers. In this session, record the ideas people are using to carry out their jobs. It’s up to you, the leader, to probe deeply so that you can mine the gold. Look at every angle; ask every question you can think of, and do all you can to encourage an honest dialog. This idea works if you’ve been a trusted leader. You must have dealt with everyone in a fair and honest way before they will reciprocate with fair and honest dialog.
  2. Create a record of the information so it can be periodically reviewed and edited.
  3. Use the information as a guidance document for everyone that will carry out the job responsibilities in the future.

Unless you make a deliberate effort to capture knowledge from workers, it will eventually be lost for future generations of workers to use.

Succession planning also includes grooming new workers to take over. Let them mentor with the more seasoned workers so that they can ask questions and glean important information on job performance.

The two step process is to capture the information and to always have people prepared to take over jobs when they are vacated by retirement or promotion. It’s a smart way to do business and a necessity in order to survive for the long-term.