When is the Right Time to Start Your Succession Planning?

Succession planning is crucial for any company, no matter the size. As a refresher, succession planning involves identifying business-critical roles that the company currently needs and will need. With these roles in mind, companies can make certain there are staff members with the required skills. The process ensures that there is enough time to train the next generation of people in various roles, particularly in company leadership. 



The Right Time is as Early as Possible


The best time to start succession planning is as soon as you can. The industry standard is to start about five years in advance of your departure.


The reason to start the planning as soon as possible is simple – it allows you to navigate unexpected circumstances. What if the person currently in the role leaves earlier than planned or gets sick? Or, what if the successor changes their mind? Planning early allows you to adapt to either of these situations. 



Remember that Succession Planning Should Not Be One-on-One


The traditional image of succession planning is one person directly teaching another person how to fill their role when they retire. However, this is not ideal from a planning perspective. It is best to train a small group of successors. Start with a short list of highly qualified successors and begin training all of them. 


By starting succession planning and training early, you’ll have time to see who will excel. It also provides backup options in case someone chooses to pursue another opportunity.