What’s Your Personal Succession Planning Process?

What’s Your Personal Succession Planning Process?

What comes to mind when you hear the term succession planning? If you’re like most people, you immediately think of its most common workplace application, namely replacing top leaders. Yet an effective succession planning process can be adapted for personal use as well. For example, it can be used to facilitate transitions to new jobs, to new careers, to self-employment, or to retirement. Just as having a viable succession planning process ensures the continuity of the organization, so too its elements can smooth the way during personal life transitions as well.

There is no doubt that organizations benefit from having a systematic process for ensuring continuity by having a ready supply of competent individuals standing by when needed. If you think about it, individuals can benefit tremendously from similar planning as well. An integrated succession planning process contains a number of components that have applications for those who are going through, or expect at some point in their lives to undergo, changes in their jobs, their careers, or employment status. Whereas workers once commonly had a single career, and even a single job, today experts estimate that people will have anywhere from three to seven different careers during their work years. And then there is retirement, a concept whose meaning continues to evolve. In other words, everyone will go through these transitions during their lifetimes. Why not make the change process as easy and productive as possible?

Here are some of the elements of a succession planning process that, if done on a regular basis, will facilitate these transitions in life:

  • A clearly articulated “big picture” that guides your career goals.
  • Strong commitment to the course of action you have selected.
  • Support of your goals by significant people in your life.
  • Identification of the specific competencies required for successful transition to your next position or career, or to retirement.
  • Periodic assessment of your existing knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies.
  • Effective measures of progress and achievement of your goals.
  • Realistic assessment of your current performance.
  • Implementation of your on-going professional development plan.
  • Periodic re-assessment of your personal goals.
  • Mindset that is ready for change and the opportunities it presents.

Whether your career goals include moving up in your current organization, or changing careers, or doing the best you can in your present position, or moving out of the workforce to retirement, the transitions will be much smoother if you have had an on-going, systematic process to help you prepare for the changes. Succession planning’s emphasis on development and accountability provides a wonderful blueprint for ensuring personal as well as professional success.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.


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