Business Smarts: Implementing Succession Planning in Your Organization - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Implementing Succession Planning in Your Organization

Succession planning isn’t something you should only start considering when you get closer to retirement age.

This is a future-focused practice of identifying the knowledge and skills needed to perform in certain roles and preparing multiple individuals to potentially carry out those functions. Succession planning also isn’t just about who is going to take on your leadership role either. It’s important to know who will step into other critical roles if a key employee leaves.

Having an effective succession plan prepares your company for all contingencies and helps build bench strength.  

Be Proactive

The main point of succession planning is to have qualified employees ready and able to take on new job opportunities well before any changes actually happen. No matter the size of your lawn care or landscape business, employees should be trained and mentored so important responsibilities don’t fall through the cracks.

While a planned retirement is easy to find and train a replacement, you can’t assume you’ll never have a sudden staff departure. Consider the key roles on your team and determine the impact of them on your company and what would happen if the current employee in the position left.

Seek Out Candidates

Once you’ve determined how a departure would affect your organization, identify two or three team members who would be the strongest candidates to take on that job. While some successors may be obvious, don’t overlook other promising employees.

Pay attention to which employees have the skills necessary to do well in higher positions, despite their current job title. Make sure you talk to the employees you view as good successors and understand their career goals. Some of your solid performers may not be interested in moving up in the company.

Letting employees know that you have career opportunities for them boosts their self-esteem and self-respect. However, be clear in your discussions that there are no guarantees, as circumstances could change with the company or the candidates themselves.

Provide Professional Development

Take stock of the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to succeed in each role you need to have filled if the current employee retires or leaves. Compare this to where each of your employees are at and track their progress toward being able to fill certain roles.

By sharing knowledge and providing professional development opportunities to all of your employees, you can consider the widest number of candidates for any open job. Connecting them with mentors can help them develop crucial soft skills leaders have such as strong communication, empathy and diplomacy.

Keep in mind that succession planning is a multi-person event and you need to have employees who can fill the gaps your successors leave as they move up in the company.

Do Test Runs

One way to ensure the employees you have tapped to take on certain roles are suited for the new title is to have a potential successor assume the responsibilities of that key job while the current employee is on vacation. This will allow them to gain firsthand experience and a chance to shine. It will also allow you to see where they need additional development.

Revisit your succession plan often to make sure people are still on track or if there have been any organizational changes in the company. Be willing to adapt your succession plan if individual employees aren’t showing the leadership skills needed for a role.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.