Succession Planning: 3 Best Practices for Millennials

Sumita Mehta

Succession planning is essential to ensure every business runs smoothly and maintains success. Now that Millennials are the largest generational group in today’s workforce, it becomes necessary to investigate the ways this could change how you approach succession planning and employment positions in the future. 


What is Succession Planning? 

Simply put, succession planning is the act of developing a plan to identify and train employees who will become future leaders within a business. When a company is running at peak performance, it's still necessary to consider that the leaders driving this success won't always be there. Identifying the next group who will fill their shoes to carry on in the same fashion is a way to plan for continued success.

Grooming (or training)  employees for key roles within a company is a great way to ensure continuity in case of current leaders leaving the organization, and allow the company to seamlessly move forward. Additionally, succession planning helps to bring awareness to employees that their employer is vested in their career and showcase advancement opportunities within an organization—a strong motivator for staying at a company and becoming a brand advocate.


How Succession Planning Affects Employee Career Pathing

Career pathing is the process an employee goes through to plan their next professional move within an organization. Developing a career path can help an individual work toward higher levels of success. When a company approaches succession planning in an integrated fashion, it can work hand in hand with the career pathing goals of employees. A clear succession planning strategy can motivate employees to identify and work toward leadership roles within your company as part of their career path. Complete transparency about the route they need to take can help you retain employees until they are prepared to fill these leadership roles.


How Millennials are Changing the Way Succession Planning Works

Millennials currently make up over half of the workforce in any industry, and that number continues to grow. While this doesn't seem like a big deal, it's important to consider that this group of employees has grown up with a wealth of knowledge and dependence on advanced technology. They also place a higher value on work/life balance than salary. In fact, 58% of millennials define success as finding a good work/life balance, and 62% say success is enjoying the work they do. 

In the past, succession planning was mainly driven by an employee’s performance in their current job. While all employees should certainly be rewarded for providing excellent service, success in one area doesn't mean a worker will thrive in a leadership position. Additionally, millennials are more likely than any generation of the past to leave a successful position to move on to a more satisfying lifestyle. Therefore, it's vital to understand exactly what these employees are seeking to provide a workplace that encourages personal and professional success.


3 Best Practices to Approach Succession Planning with Millennials in Mind

With the advancement of technology, today’s businesses are constantly evolving to provide better products and services to the modern consumer.  Similarly, businesses must also evolve to provide the right growth opportunities and support to their millennial employees. Succession planning is as important as ever with this generational group. Although millennials don't feel tied to a specific job or company, 91% of millennials show interest in management opportunities. However, the way you approach the process might need a serious overhaul. Consider these tips when creating a succession planning strategy for millennials in your company.


1. Learn What's Most Important to Your Employees

In the past, a larger salary was the way to entice employees. Millennials have a different gauge for success. Instead of a workplace with strict demands and long hours, millennials want an enjoyable work/life balance. Flexibility, advancement, and a meaningful position are considered some of the most important values, with 79% citing flexibility, and 86% mentioning time off as reasons to stay with a company. Understanding these values can be key in retaining millennial employees and preparing quality leaders for your company's future. Capture your employees' preferences, long and short term career goals and aspirations and use them as inputs into succession planning. 


2. Make Your Succession Planning Methods Transparent

Transparency and trust are values that draw millennials toward one business or another. Millennials like to have a full understanding of how tasks contribute to the success of a business. Additionally, showing your employees the chance for advancement improves engagement and reduces employee turnover. If millennials aren't offered advancement opportunities as compensation for continued quality work, they are likely to seek them elsewhere. Conversely, if regular feedback leads to increased opportunities, you are likely to see engagement and productivity improve. Highlight career paths within your company and bring awareness to opportunities for advancement by creating a career pathing framework that ties into the succession planning goals of the organization. 


3. Provide Frequent Feedback and Reward Quality Work

Traditional performance reviews are often an event that puts employees in the hot seat while supervisors scrutinize their work. However, millennials crave regular feedback that provides direction within the workplace. Millennials often choose to work in a specific position because they're interested in the company's overall mission. Therefore, they want to receive feedback on the ways their role is helping to achieve that mission. Yet, it is vital to understand that these employees expect compensation for quality work, and advancement opportunities on the way to leadership roles shouldn't be overlooked. In addition to manager feedback, use peer reviews, mentoring and coaching, to guide and support employees towards the next step in their careers. 

 

Preparing for the Future of Work

Some companies avoid the responsibilities of succession planning assuming potential leaders will naturally rise to the top. Instead of leaving the future of your business to chance, implement a succession planning strategy that will propel the most qualified employees into positions that will drive success.