Succession planning is a process for preparing people to meet a company’s needs for talent over time. Through the succession planning process, top loss prevention performers are identified based on their perceived growth potential. We then establish a means to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities; and prepare them for advancement into increasingly challenging roles.
While different companies may have styles or approaches that are unique to their particular business, for the most part developmental activities do not dramatically differ from one company to the next. Let’s take a closer look at some of the core components of a viable succession plan:
- We have to recognize the need to plan. Our focus should be on building a foundation that supports where the company is going. The strategic plan should reflect where company leaders see the organization 5-10 years down the road, how they feel we will get there, and finding the best vehicle to help us make the journey.
- Well-conceived succession management plans should always align with corporate values and strategy. Our plan should incorporate the core of our company developmental programs as well as our focal goals and objectives.
- We have to establish our plan without taking our eyes off of the core business, and our role in supporting that core business. By assessing the current corporate culture and how our role will evolve within that culture, we must forecast how we feel it needs to change in the future.
- Core competency models for key company and departmental positions are the backbone of any succession management initiative. Our plan should identify and communicate key competencies and design tools to measure those competencies and develop related skills, abilities and experience.
- Within the framework of our company structure we should develop a set of leadership criteria and developmental approaches that assess the strengths, weaknesses and succession readiness of our high potential associates, create a depth chart that reflects our evaluation, and modify our plan as deemed necessary and appropriate. By identifying leadership planning gaps we can then develop action plans aimed at improving the efficiencies of high potential employees while ensuring that leadership practices reflect company values as well as long-term goals.
- We should incorporate our plan into our everyday business activities. Through continual observations, assessments and training we should challenge key players to better understand their current responsibilities, develop their leadership skills and realize their potential advancement options and opportunities.
Our planning efforts should then be put to paper so that we can approach issues in an orderly, organized fashion. Outlining the important aspects of the plan helps us to maintain accountability by documenting our methods and strategies.
The Depth Chart
An important aspect of succession management efforts is to develop a depth chart for each of our key positions. Similar to the depth charts currently utilized by many sports franchises, the depth chart ascertains the company’s bench strength (or weakness) at each position. After we have listed the “starter,” or individual currently occupying the job, we then rank potential replacement candidates should that position open. Depending on the structure of the company, the opportunities available and the talents of the individual, an employee may be considered as potential bench strength for multiple positions.
Different factors may come into play depending on the company and their approach to the business, the goals and objectives of the current leadership, real and perceived growth opportunities, and the structure and composition of the loss prevention department. However, most programs will evaluate:
• Core competencies/skills/abilities
• Performance metrics
• Leadership, interpersonal and communication skills
• Drive, enthusiasm and flexibility
• Global thought processes and business maturity
• Perceived growth and potential
As the needs of the business grow and develop our succession management plans must evolve as well. The loss prevention industry in particular and the retail business as a whole are in a state of constant change. Competition in retail is fierce and companies are continuously modifying their business plans. As new skills are being developed and new roles are being defined, individual performances are stepping up or falling back.
These and many other factors demand that we evaluate our team on a regular and consistent basis or face the consequences of the unexpected or unprepared. While most companies have scheduled evaluation periods, staying ahead of the curve, communicating with your team and maintaining appropriate documentation will keep your plan—and your team—efficient and effective.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about investing in your career, succession planning, and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.