In these unsettled times, there still may be many people undergoing a job change due to their own involuntary exit, the exit of others, or taking an opportunity that has now become available. Even if one is not leaving, it is always a good time to think about succession which is “who will replace you if you are promoted or leave the company.” Succession planning involves identifying and developing people to fill positions within the company. Succession planning is also a beneficial strategy for retaining great employees by letting them know that they are appreciated and have a future in the organization. Moreover, it is always worthwhile for one’s own career to think about where you would like to go as the next stop on your career path. In this blog, we will offer a few suggestions for grooming your successor.

Step 1: Draft a job descriptions for your position
A job description outlines the responsibilities of the position holder along with the knowledge, skills and capabilities required to perform the work. It is important to keep job descriptions updated as roles change. The job description should be available to all employees so that they know what requirements are needed on the next rungs of the corporate ladder.

Step 2: Write out step-by-step what you do on a daily basis
Take time to write out what you do, step-by-step, day-by-day so that the person taking over your job is prepared. Include on the list what you do, who you deal with and their contact information, resources needed, status of current projects, and how tasks are done. Pertinent details include how to access certain information in shared cloud storage, how to log into reporting systems and the “care and feeding” of certain clients. If you cannot properly and thoroughly pass that information down, you cannot pass down your post. Or, you will be promoted and FOREVER be doing the old job because it’s not written as a handover. It is also useful to be able to sit with the person and talk through the handover document, but if that is not possible, the written documentation will suffice.

Step 3: Do a Skills Gap Assessment
Once the job description is written, a leader can pinpoint which employees have those traits and where training is needed to build the skills needed to fill the position. Employees can also do a self-evaluation to determine which path they would like to follow and how they can build the skills needed to be successful in both gaining and then filling the role. Oftentimes, a company will designate an heir apparent for a role, but will neglect the important step of preparing the person with the necessary skills to fulfill the role, thereby setting them up for failure.

To build skills, there may be company-wide programs in which a person can participate, or they may want to investigate external professional, web-based, or university programs. There are also myriad books that can educate an employee. Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR CEO, recently wrote Beverly Hills Boss, a book, which offers advice on how to become the boss of your life, journey, and destiny by sharing her story of how as a young girl she had a dream and despite the odds against her made my dreams happen, and how you can too.

Step 4 Become a mentor
Mentor relationships may be formal or informal and both are beneficial. In either case, a more seasoned and a less experienced person meet regularly to learn from each other, which is mutually beneficial. Mentees can help older experienced workers learn new technology and reignite their passions while mentees can learn leadership, interpersonal, and job-specific skills. Mentors may be assigned or either the mentor or mentee may approach a person with whom they would like to work. A good mentor may see potential that the mentee does not see in themselves. The best relationships are when an individual is matched with someone whose career path and current position reflects their own aspirations. These two individuals most likely will have shared interests and can help one another with goals.

Step 5 Offer incremental opportunities to build skills
There is a saying, “give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” By giving an employee ownership over a small project or a portion of a larger project, they will have the opportunity to catch a trout and can build up their skills so that they will be prepared to land the whale of an opportunity and be ready to fill the position you are vacating.. Owning projects and figuring out how to accomplish tasks is a great learning experience and confidence builder. It is important that the person knows that there is a senior person to whom he can go who will help him to find his bearings and determine next steps if he finds himself in a tight spot. When the project is completed, the leader and employee should sit down for a debriefing and to celebrate successes and make recommendations for the next project.

Succession planning helps to keep everyone motivated and to prepare for smooth transitions. Regardless of the reason you are leaving a position, it is important to leave everything in order so that the next person to hold the job can be positioned for success and that the person leaving will not lose the trusted reputation they have worked hard to build. Good luck in wherever your career path takes you.