Planning replacements is a crucial process for any business model. It’s about mixing and managing staff in a way that promotes future growth. The keyword here is future above all. Organizations of all kinds have to look at potential opportunities for changing of the guard, switching roles, and of course replacing roles altogether with new ones. Replacement planning is often spoken in the same breathe as succession planning since both highlight individuals who can assume new roles in the future and hints at how ready they are for that role.
Having individuals identified as backups makes for good business, because having a backup plan for anything in life that should have one in place regardless, is always a good idea. It’s covering your rear and making sure the entire castle doesn’t collapse because one brick in the foundation has given out. It’s like a domino effect also. Chain reactions occur with good replacement plans, where newly injected talent or the person who was meant and deserving for a particular managerial role was finally recognized as the right person, and got the promotion, whereas the old destructive manager was let go.
If your organization uses something along the lines of a talent pool for employee growth & development, here are 7 steps that can guide a replacement planning activity:
1. Identify key positions
While every position in your organization carries some kind of significance, certain roles shouldn’t be left open for too long because it could negatively impact long-term growth of the business itself. According to SHRM, the average window of time it should take to fill a role of any kind is 42 days.
2. Identify critical skills in every role
This is a must-have in your staffing analysis. List the qualities that anyone in a certain position absolutely must have, no exceptions. Remember, a part of your replacement plan is identifying who at least has basic skills because then he or she could learn new skills or knowledge relevant or related to that new role they find themselves in, thus more individual growth.
3. Assess current skillsets
This is also something that should obviously exist in your staffing analysis. But maybe a quick shortcut to gauge your current employee’s skillsets is to compare them to any outside consultants or contracted freelancers you might have current or previously hired.
4. Match critical skills to current skills
You should keep planning activity based on employee skills, not so much job titles. Many employees today are starting to care less about their title, and more about the job functions required, and how well their skill sets match up to them; making them the best possible fit for the role.
5. Awareness of jobs that don’t match up with anyone
Sniffing out any jobs that need emergency attention, usually means the ones where there’s no current replacement available. Aside from vacant ones, but current roles, where the current employee is someone management knows, will ultimately not work out and should start the replacement planning process may be a little bit in advance, especially if its an important role.
6. Address gaps
This kind of plan can include development programs, coaching, mentoring, specialized group training, etc. You can use talent pools to develop transferable skills for many positions.
On a regular basis you should be evaluating your plan based on the final needs of the company and for key positions, the individuals currently holding certain roles should be tasked with helping identify their replacement and then training them once onboarding is successful (given that this person has made clear they will be leaving the organization).
It would be naive to think employees will never leave your organization on their own terms. Replacement planning gives organizations a backup plan in the event an important employee leaves, and the business isn’t feeling disadvantaged or left behind.