The key to any successful business is exceptional talent. Over the past year, we have endured a rollercoaster of events that nobody could have predicted. Did you have a succession plan in place, ready to replace those who left?

Succession planning is a great way to make sure that your company is ready for what the future holds. For example, when a key employee leaves you will have someone ready to step into their shoes and fill their position (which you would have prepared them for).

So, what is succession planning and why is it so important?

Succession planning is the process and strategy of identifying and developing future leaders in your team. From developing future leaders to senior managers, succession planning allows you to fill roles efficiently and effectively should an employee leave the organisation.

Implementing a succession plan enables the business to continue to move forward during times of change. It plays a crucial role in the future of your team’s performance and allows you to identify and develop future talent within your team. It will also provide you with the ability to retain your strongest team members.

Not only will it allow you to know the direction of where your team is heading, but it will allow the employee to visualise their career progression. This can boost morale and motivation, increasing work output and results.

Whilst particularly common in larger businesses, smaller organisations also benefit greatly from this process.

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your succession plan:

1. Start devising a plan

Sometimes you will know when a key leader is going to leave the organisation. For example, retirement or maternity leave. However, other times it can come as a surprise and something you may not have been planning for. That’s why it is critical to implement a plan as soon as possible.

A good place to start is by reviewing your team and understanding the impact each member plays in your team or department. A few questions to ask yourself:

– What would the team look like without them?

– If they did leave, how would that affect the operation of the business?

2. Begin to identify your key players

Once you have identified the potential impact of an employee leaving the company, start identifying the future leaders who could step into those roles. Carefully consider the performance of each employee objectively. Whilst often the most obvious successor may be in the role below on the career ladder, there may be other employees that are ready to step up to the mark.

3. Set up individual meetings

As your succession plan begins to take shape, continue to stay proactive and start organising conversations with your employees. It is important to understand what their career goals are and how they see their future at the company. Additionally, it is important to find out what development they need to get there.

Let the employee know that there is an opportunity for progression should it arise. Whilst there are no guarantees, preparing the future leader will allow them to prepare and continue to develop towards progression.

4. Ramp up professional development opportunities

Although you will likely have a professional development plan in place, the next step is to begin focussing on the development of your succession choices. Are there particular skills that they need to improve on to step up or anything they are missing from their portfolio of skills?

A few ways that can help to develop your team members skills may include job rotation. This will allow them to gain an insight into the role, developing both their knowledge and experience. Providing them with a mentor will also help to encourage their professional development and give them opportunity to learn from others in the business.

5. Give your plan a test run

While succession planning is a good strategy for an emergency, you don’t need to wait for a crisis before implementing your plan. If you want to test whether an employee has the skills to take on a more advanced role, don’t be afraid to let them have a go. A great time to do this is if or when their manager has taken some time off, be it a planned holiday or an unplanned event.

This will be a good test to identify whether they are ready for progression. Additionally, it will allow you to see if that individual needs more time or training.

6. Future-proof your hiring strategy

As you begin to roll out your succession plan, talent will begin to move around. Don’t forget that you will then need to fill their position, again with top-quality talent. Integrating your succession plan with your hiring strategy will allow you to know when you may need to look for new talent. Are there specific trends? What are the requirements for your future talent?

7. Stay proactive and review the succession plan

Once you have done the hard work of creating and implementing your succession plan, make sure that hard work doesn’t go to waste. To ensure that your plan maintains its effectiveness, continue to update and review the plan to ensure that it is aligned with the current team and situation of the business. Due to the fast-paced and continued change within the market, reviewing your plan every six months will allow you to keep up and maintain its effectiveness.


The main aim of a succession plan is to future-proof the business and mitigate risk when key employees leave the company. This will allow the business to continue moving forward in times of change. Equally, it will also help to attract high-quality talent as it will demonstrate the opportunities for career progression within your company.  

For a consultation with one of our Directors at JasperRose on the structure of your finance team and how you can create a succession plan within this, then please contact us.

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