Planning for the Future of Your Business with Succession Planning (Part 2)



succession-planning.jpgIn last week’s blog, we discussed the importance of creating an organization-wide succession plan, complete with tools to use in the beginning steps.

Once these steps have been completed, organizations can move onto the next phase of planning, which involves digging deeper into position requirements and identifying relevant training needs.

Are Your Position Descriptions Up-to-Date?
Before leaders can understand the requirements necessary to achieve success within the organization, they must start with accurate and regularly updated descriptions of what each position calls for. Without this, there is no way to know if an individual is on the right track.

The position description is a critical document for every role. An effective position description performs several important functions:

  •   It describes the skills and competencies that are needed to perform the role
  •   It defines where the job fits within the overall company hierarchy
  •   It is used as the basis for the employment contract
  •   It is a valuable performance management tool

Evaluate Performance to Track Success
Using the position description as a guide, the next step is to conduct Performance Evaluations to evaluate progress. Performance evaluation is an essential tool to create an honest assessment of an employee’s performance, both good and bad. Think of the performance review as a way to both celebrate the positives, and shine a light on areas where improvements can be made. Some important criteria to evaluate include:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Quality and accuracy of work
  • Attendance and dependability
  • Ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlines

Additionally, when conducting performance reviews, try to follow these guidelines:

  1. Take the time to do them right. Some may consider it an inconvenience or claim they simply don’t have the time, but these are important to the employee so plan for some uninterrupted one-on-one time.
  2. Keep a file or notes on your employees throughout the review period. It will be hard to remember whether an employee over- or under-achieved five months ago. Where did they excel? Where did they fall short? What training did they receive? What new jobs have they learned?
  3. Set goals and be open and honest. Not doing so is a disservice to the employee and the organization. Everyone has the opportunity to grow and improve, so that should be communicated.

Use Training to Drive Employee (and Organizational) Growth
Finally, a Training Needs Analysis should be conducted to determine if training can help fill the gaps between what employees know and what they need to know to achieve organizational goals. If the position description accurately describes the requirements of the job, and the review determines if the employees are meeting those requirements, a plan can then be developed to provide them with exactly the support they need.

Training Needs Analysis should begin with understanding the mission and vision of the company, as all training should help to achieve those goals. Used in conjunction with the Capability Database and Nine-Block Grid, a well-designed path for each employee can be developed. The Capability Database details past training received by employees along with training they intend to receive in the future, and the Nine-Block Grid allows a leader to understand what is needed to advance an employee. The analysis itself can be done in a few steps:

  1. Align your business and training goals. Look at the mission, vision, strategic plan, business plan, etc., that define the values and beliefs of the organization and develop the training around them.
  2. Look at the current versus desired practices. After understanding the goals, determine what is holding the company back from achieving them. Get help if needed! Ask directors, managers, supervisors and even the employees themselves what they feel they need to achieve the goals.
  3. Prioritize training needs. Prioritization can be difficult if you have a great deal of training to deliver. Consider any compliance or safety training first, then revert to the business goals to determine what is most critical.

The analysis, if completed correctly, will help an organization:

  • Maximize Resources. Ensure the time and resources your company invests are not wasted on the wrong training.
  • Fill the gaps. Skills shortcomings can hold employees back, cost customers and lose revenue for the organization. Examining needs can plug those gaps.
  • Prioritize. Understanding the needs of employees can help determine what should be done first to support the organization in reaching its goals.
  • Boost chances to achieve learning goals. The training you create and deliver can be tailored to what you want to achieve.

Creating a succession plan for all employees in your organization can support them in reaching individual goals as well as the goals of the company. The time you invest in creating this plan will be worthwhile as it will help improve relationships with supervisors, give workers a sense of purpose, develop trust in leadership and strengthen belief in the organization. When implemented effectively, a workplace environment will be created that promotes engagement and prepares the organization for the future.

To learn more about how The Center can support your future business planning, visit


Beels_M2-web.jpgMike Beels, Lean Program Manager
Mike Beels has served in the role of Lean Program Manager for the Lean Business Solutions Team at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center for more than 14 years. Mike’s areas of expertise include Change Leadership, Workforce Engagement, and Succession Planning, as well as the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methodologies. Michael has been prominent in the development of the “Lean Office” Program at The Center, helping organizations identify waste and improve processes on the “carpet” side of the business.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Leadership/Culture