Succession planning, or succession management, is the process of identifying and developing key employees within an organization in order to develop a “bench” in the event that other key players move up, move on or move over. It is a process for preparing people to meet a company’s needs for talent over time. It is not a transactional event, but rather the progressive developmental needs and approaches that are an essential part of our overall growth.
Through the succession planning process, top 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.
Succession planning ensures the continuing performance standards prescribed by our company are met by making provisions for the development, replacement and strategic utilization of key employees over time. Healthy companies understand the need to create pools of candidates with high leadership potential. By understanding the organization’s long term goals and objectives and determining the developmental needs of the available work force, the succession plan maximizes the return on the company’s training investments and minimizes the impact on the organization’s effectiveness and productivity when important roles are vacated.
Succession planning focuses on developing people rather than simply naming them as replacements when openings occur. The goal is that when a vacancy occurs, the organization has qualified internal candidates that may be considered for promotion. A well designed succession plan outlines a process to be followed in the event that a crucial employee needs to be replaced.
Forecasting Growth and Turnover
In the past, most companies typically focused on succession planning only when considering their top leadership positions. Key performers may have been rewarded with opportunities for development and advancement, but no formal plan was established that would help secure long-term career planning and progression for the associate, nor leadership forecasting and professional stability throughout the company.
In today’s business culture however, organizations have come to recognize the importance of succession planning on a variety of different levels within the business hierarchy. With the spirited nature of the retail industry, the wealth of opportunity that exists in a competitive market, the increased access created by the internet and the sophistication of executive search efforts; it is easier for employees to find opportunities—and to be sought for opportunities.
As retailers evolve and expand, develop new markets and open new stores, there is also a greater need for talented professionals to satisfy the growing needs of the business. With strong succession planning, employees are more prepared to step into new leadership roles as the need arises. Transitions occur more smoothly and efficiently, and company decision makers are better prepared to look at the future makeup of the organization as a whole.
When forecasting departmental growth and other potential succession planning issues within your Loss Prevention department, we should consider the following:
- Do we have an open and effective communication strategy? Do we know where our company is going? Are there open channels of communication up, down and sideways that can help us anticipate our needs and be proactive in our efforts?
- Do we have a clear understanding of our company’s preferences and expectations for a succession plan?
- Have we determined what we consider to be our most critical positions? Have we prioritized our potential needs so that we respond to those needs in a manner that best serves the interests of the company and the department?
- Do we have competency models that outline what skills and abilities are most necessary for success in a given role or position? Do we have an objective means of measuring competency? Do we have the tools necessary to fill the gaps in employee competency?
- Have we acted to identify future positions or potential vacancies? Do we have an effective staffing and recruitment strategy in the event that the need develops?
- Do we have individual development plans for our associates? Do we have effective assessment tools that can help to identify employee competency levels, gaps in competency levels, and strategies to improve those competencies?
- Do we have coaching and/or mentoring programs that will assist with leadership transition and development? Do we have an evaluation plan for succession management? Do we have a means to hold management accountable for cultivating talent and following succession planning efforts?
All of these components should be incorporated into a successful leadership strategy to help keep your Loss Prevention program healthy and prepared for the changing needs of the business and the successful operation of the Loss Prevention department.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about developing your leadership skills and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.