Change Management

Executing a Succession Plan

Turnover in the United States is higher than many people think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate across a wide range of industries in the private sector was over 47.4% annually in 2017, and that number has increased steadily from 42.3% in 2013. So, businesses need to be prepared to lose employees at all levels of the organization.succession

In two previous posts, we discussed the need to have a succession plan in place for any employee level and also discussed steps to prepare for eventual employee departures. Here, we’ll talk about how to ensure a transition that is as smooth as possible when an employee does depart.

If You Get 2 Weeks, Use Them

Often, the best-case scenario with a departing employee is receiving 2 weeks of notice. As Nicole Fallon notes in an article for Business News Daily, the clock starts ticking as soon as you get this notice.

“Even if this employee holds a unique position and tackles responsibilities that other staff members don’t handle, you need to find someone within your existing pool who is competent enough to at least learn the ropes of the exiting employee’s job, and hold down the fort as you search for a replacement,” Fallon writes.

Offload the Workloads of Existing Employees Who Are Transitioning

There will need to be at least some period of time where your existing employees need to pick up some of the work the departing employee was performing.

During this transition period, do what you can to offload their typical duties, as well, especially if the departing employee was working on critical initiatives or if you plan on having one of your existing employees become a permanent replacement.

Plan to Hire a Replacement Immediately

Realistically, it’s not going to be easy to expect your existing employees to absorb all of your exiting employee’s responsibilities permanently. Rebecca Knight, in an article for Harvard Business Review, says employers should post a job listing as soon as possible to replace the departing employee.

She also recommends seeking input from the departing employee’s coworkers and team members during the hiring process. “Ask employees for input on what skills, experience and qualities they would like to find in the new hire,” she says. “Perhaps they know people—inside or outside the company—who would be a good fit.”

Employee turnover is a simple reality in any business, and those that fail to account for it have only themselves to blame. Employers need to understand the importance of having a succession plan for all levels of the organization, develop a plan in advance, and be able to execute it when employees do inevitably leave.