We spend countless hours generating documents to support us with working better, or more efficiently, as a team and then we promptly forget about them. We forget to update them, we forget to use them and eventually we forget why we made them in the first place.
Lately I have been doing succession planning with most organisations I work with. This month alone, I am working with 3 companies doing various succession plans 1) with a leader to support with the departing of a staff member and the work they are leaving behind, 2) succession planning with staff, ED, and Board and 3) group leadership development with a tech company leadership team.
Succession planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does help to get a consultant into your workplace to support you. One of the things you can begin immediately is to future-proof your workplace by being in a continuous mode of knowledge transfer. In other words, don’t wait for the day when one of your team members calls in rich and quits or moves to Australia to become an ultra-minimalist – start knowledge transfer processes and succession planning now.
Having good documentation in place and building a culture of knowledge transfer supports with retaining information inside your organisation. It ensures in the event of a staffing emergency you can continue your day to day operations smoothly.
This can be is done through:
After Action Reviews: These debriefings are a way to capture experiences, what worked well, what needs improvement, and what can be done differently next time so others can learn from those experiences. It allows a leadership team to share learnings with other program leaders and departments.
Creation of Job Aids: These are tools that help people perform tasks accurately and could be built off best practises. They include things such as checklists or decision tree diagrams that provide specific concrete information and serve as a quick reference guide. Job Aids help with knowledge transfer and also improve on-boarding. Job aids ensure key processes and functions do not just live inside people’s heads.
Mentoring (formal & informal): In mentoring, an experienced skilled person (mentor) is paired with a lesser skilled or experienced person (mentee), with the goal of developing or strengthening the competencies of the mentee. Mentorship programs support with leadership development, succession planning and on the job training (win-win-win!)
Why succession plan? Replacement hiring is a reactive process to a staffing emergency to fill an immediate need, whereas succession planning is proactive and works to address the need before it exists. By having a succession plan in place, companies save time (and dollars) through building internal capacity and knowledge. No emergencies here.