Succession planning – are you planning for it?

It may seem odd that a successful recruitment business is writing about succession planning. Nevertheless, MRK Associates has witnessed a trend that recruiting successfully at junior levels helps businesses align these employees so they become your executives of the future. As a growing business, you’ll want to promote those employees who have succeeded. Others will move onto pastures new; the natural wastage. Having employees within your organisation who feel engaged, trusted, and fulfilled are going to be in the very best place to step up – succession planning in action!

Succession planning isn’t just for family businesses either.

More and more businesses should be less reliant on contingent recruitment – replacing like for like when someone moves to new pastures – and looking more steadily at the future. Proactivity and bravery in recruiting your leadership team of tomorrow saves time, money, and allows you to focus on tuning new recruits to your culture and processes.

Yet the reality is that this isn’t happening. Day-to-day priorities will mean “nice to do” projects such as implementing your succession planning programme slips down the “to-do” list. Another reality is that businesses – SMEs especially – are ill-prepared when a member of the leadership team moves job. It’s a vicious circle – unless it’s proactively addressed, Groundhog Day for SMEs will continue forever and a day.

We’ve mentioned this many times before and it’s worth repeating: Candidates are holding the “Ace” playing cards in their career progression. Great talent is so hard to come by and becomes exponentially more expensive the more senior they develop, so putting a strategy in place to snare junior candidates who will become the leaders of tomorrow is critical.

Planning for succession

An effective plan is not constituted overnight. To allow for inevitable changes to priorities, an effective plan can take up to 10 years to implement. This is a complex undertaking that can take years of preparation and the bigger the firm, the longer the undertaking.

At MRK Associates, we work with businesses of all sizes, in all industries to identify their people of the future. External observers will pretend that this is not an essential agenda item, more a vanity project. My return argument is those points above. The scarcity and expense of available candidates at senior level mean you have to identify your leaders of the future.

The strategy for recruiting for the future is not a task to be specifically bestowed upon HR or internal recruitment, but instead as a leadership team as a unit.

Helpful hints

No assumptions
Assuming your top salesperson will simply move into the top job is a risk you should not take. Whilst they can sell your product/service, does he/she have the leadership excellence embedded in their approach to manage and lead people? Selling is an individual role, leadership is the complete polar opposite. The same applies to finance and other office-based positions – many people don’t have the qualities to lead teams. Think laterally.

Be creative in your planning
With your marketing, you use a whole portfolio of tactics to reach customers. You need to do the same with your recruitment. Using specialist recruiters such as MRK Associates are worth its weight in gold. They will work with you, identify the precise needs and onboard them. You need to look at the bigger picture.

Spread the load

Empower division heads/directors to be part of the process, after all, they are the people who, in time, could be replaced by these new hires. By identifying these new recruits, you can onboard, develop, and focus time appropriately so when the transition happens, it’s as seamless as possible.

Put your feet up?

So, MRK Associates has identified some candidates and you’ve recruited. Great news! Job done? NO!

These recruits will require development plans to ensure they grow and remain committed to you and the project. You’ll need to assess them in the workplace and sometimes, they move on too. It’s a reality. That’s why your pool of talent needs to be constantly reviewed.

Rather than constantly react to changing people needs, businesses should look to develop their pool of talent or risk years of fallow development in your organisation’s development.

Does your business need help in identifying future CFO’s, FDs, Financial controllers and Operations Directors? MRK Associates delivers bespoke recruitment solutions to recruit and develop new staff that you can develop and promote. With over 10 years’ experience in this arena, you’ll require a specialist agency like MRK Associates to develop your talent pool. Your success could depend on it.

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, office support/administration jobs and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email:

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