Succession Planning

by Martin Haworth

Step 2 - your most effective structure

Because succession planning involves the people in your team, it’s important to remember that you will have the opportunity to fine-tune the way your team operates.

In very large teams, perhaps where there are a number of ‘levels’, you might wish to change this organisational structure going forward.

As a follow-up to the visioning exercise you just undertook, you will need to consider whether the proposed outcomes were absolutely honest. It’s possible that your envisioning process included what/who you are starting with, but removing ‘who you have now’ from the calculations makes radical shifts much more effective. In other words, as the manager or team leader, it’s important to decide whether the structure of the team best serves the future or whether you might need to do some work on that first of all.

Structures can appear to be the most challenging aspect to change, especially when you suspect there might be a need to make radical decisions if you are to create the stepping stones you need to lead you to success in the future.

Yet because you are planning for the future and therefore aware of a ‘move towards’ plan, you will find that over time opportunities naturally crop up that will help you, as long as you are being totally true to your bigger goals.

An important element to remember is that you look to the very best structure to achieve your goal and don’t try to make the current structure fit just because you have people in position right now.

One of the key points of the whole succession planning activity is that it is a plan, which means that you measure opportunities against the ideal as they occur.

Without a plan, you will miss the chances that occur to make the changes you need steadily and with the minimum of disruption. In any case, there might come a point at which restructuring is asked of you; if you have no plan for this, then the challenges involved in moving people around become much more daunting.

What is an ideal structure?

Well, only a manager can tell, using experiences of what works well and an understanding their particular situation and needs.

Of course, within certain organisational structures there may be little flexibility. That said, if you are sufficiently smart and savvy, it can still be possible to create room to manoeuvre in these circumstances.

Succession planning – step two activities

  1. Consider how well your existing structure works for you right now.
  2. Does it meet the needs of your business vision?
  3. Then, think ahead for the longer-term – will it be appropriate for the best performance?
  4. If the answer is yes, make a note of what is good about the current structure and stay as you are.
  5. If there are changes that need to be made, understand exactly what these changes are and take note of them.
  6. Discuss your thinking with your key people, taking care to engage rather than raise fears.

The next step to successful succession planning really gets to the core of the value you can add with this planning project. It’s all about where your vulnerabilities are.