So, you have a key employee with years of experience in their position. They are leaving the company. What have you done to make a smooth transition to the next person to fill that job? Sadly, the answer is often little or nothing. Let’s take a closer look at the position transition, also known more broadly as succession planning.

In one personal example, a key transmission designer with over 50 years of experience for a weapons system vehicle manufacturer retired. He got his gold watch. But all that experience was lost except for documents. Why didn’t the company pay a young mechanical engineer to work side by side with the designer for a year before he left?

In another personal example, a quality manager for one of the world’s top electronics manufacturers was moving on. Though his replacement came onboard two weeks before the manager left, he provided no guidance or information for the new hire. Remembering this, when that follow on manager left the company, he documented processes, meetings, and left a thorough description of his role and what had to be done for the next manager.

What happens in your organization? What should happen?

First, let’s get a good overview from Gregg Learning.The Gregg Learning video explains what is meant by succession planning and what it entails. 

But first they lay out the problem as repeated below:

“Planning for the foreseen and expected absences of people who hold key roles in an organization is a task that we as employers often avoid or engage only in an informal matter.”

The five step process often used for Succession Planning is:

  • Identify key positions
  • Identify high performers
  • Prepare participants
  • Provide developmental opportunities
  • Monitor Progress

The video goes on to provide guidance for each of the steps.

You can watch the video here.

Next, let’s hear from Glen Harrison, VP at Sigma Succession Systems, a firm that focuses on Succession Planning training and consulting.

Using the right resources and a structured process get the key stakeholders together and identify where to structure the resources.

Glen discusses their use of the Critical Role Identification Questionnaire. In listing the positions needed for succession planning, the questionnaire helps determine which are the most important to focus on.

The questionnaire has five areas where a ranking is required:

  • Urgent Need
  • Low External Candidate Availability
  • Poor Internal Bench Strength
  • Strong Impact on Business
  • Unique Skill Set or Knowledge Base

Glen goes on to give guidance as to what comes next after the final results of the questionnaire.

You can view Glen’s video here.