The Succession Planning Secret to Get Promoted

The Succession Planning Secret to Get Promoted image DATE: June 22, 2022
Photo by Greta Hoffman :

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When it comes to succession planning in your organization, are you in line to be promoted? Are you putting yourself in the best position to be considered? In too many cases, people looking to move up overlook one key step in their preparation. Let’s pull back the curtain on what decision-makers are looking for when promoting from within.

What Decision-Makers Look For

Here’s the scene: Department heads and HR staff are sitting in a conference room discussing the need to fill a position with a current employee (hopefully, you!) “We need for someone to step into this position — who is ready? Who is the right person?”

Immediately your name is identified. (YES!) And the discussion continues.

“Yes, absolutely, no question! He, she, they are definitely ready to take on this responsibility.”

It was almost like a no-brainer — you are the definitive candidate! But then someone in the room invariably asks this question.

“Okay, I’m completely on board with this person for the promotion. But have we thought about who will take their position?”

And with that, everyone who was in favor of you starts to question if you’re the right fit after all.

“Their current role is so vital, but there’s not a clear-cut person to step in for them. I think we’re going to have to go around them to someone who may be a lesser candidate, but who has somebody ready to backfill their position.”

Ultimately, someone else got the opportunity. Not that they were a bad choice, they just weren’t the first choice or maybe the best choice. You missed the promotion because no one had been prepared to step into your role.

Fast Lane or By-passed?

Believe me, that happens more often than you would like to think. So, let’s talk about the success planning secret that puts you in the fast lane — getting your successor ready.

If you’ve been identified to move up, but you’ve not been formally tasked with finding or preparing your replacement, that’s when we say, “Own it!” Training your successor could mean the difference between getting the promotion you want and being bypassed for some other candidate. Be the candidate that says, “I’m going to begin developing the person who would take my place so that when the succession planning conversation comes up, I’m ready with an answer.”

How to Get Your Successor Ready

But where do you start?  We recommend you start with delegation.

In our leadership development and management training program, we oftentimes refer to delegation as a “fine art.” And the reason we describe it that way is because delegation is not easily done, and it’s not quickly learned. Delegation is an acquired skill that requires your time and attention. And you also have to experiment with delegating to get better at it.

Delegating isn’t merely the handing off of responsibilities. Delegating is about developing the other person. So consider handing off the tasks or responsibilities that will not just free up your time but will stretch and grow your successor. Here are two good places to start.

  1. Recurring responsibilities. Delegate parts of your work that will teach your replacement a different piece of the job. For example, have your successor create daily supply lists, decide weekly work schedules, or produce recurring monthly reports.
  2. Hangover responsibilities or projects. These are efforts that could be beneficial to the organization but have been piled up on your desk for too long, for example, initial research or fact-finding steps to move a project forward.

(For a deeper dive on this, listen to Ep 12 of The Man & The Millennial Show.)

What Does Your Employee Think?

When delegating to develop your successor, we believe leaders must be able to think like employees, to empathize with them. So stop and ask yourself, “When I’m delegating, how is this going to make people think or feel?”

For example, if you’re delegating a routine activity, might your employee think this… “They’re just being selfish and trying to free up their time so they don’t have to do this. They don’t like this task and they’re pushing it off to me.”

If you empathize with your employee, you may realize you need to take a different approach or communicate your intentions differently. For delegation to be a successful experience for you and your successor, clear expectations need to be communicated.

“Delegate to develop others.” ~ Alyson Van Hooser

Check-In for Feedback

Throughout the delegation process, don’t miss checking in with your employee. Get their feedback regularly on questions like: “How are you feeling this far in? What are you struggling with? What are you really enjoying? What do you want to do next?”

And, frankly, these questions should always be included: “Is this going the direction you want or should we do this in a different way? Is it too much, or too little? Are you ready for more responsibility or are you overwhelmed at this moment?”

You don’t want to continue to delegate to a point that it becomes counterproductive to the organizational good, but in most cases, the people you delegate to will be excited to learn and do new things. And they’ll feel like you have faith, confidence, and trust in them.

And when their leader says, “I believe in you,” and they believe in themselves, a whole different transformational process takes place!

Your Succession Planning Action Steps

If succession planning includes a step up, take a few minutes to consider your action steps. Who will take your place? What are the tasks that you could begin delegating to them?

What do they need to know to be able to do the job? What skillset, what knowledge, what foundation do they need? Then, do they know why they need to know it?

Finally, do they want the position?

Delegation is the succession planning secret to getting promoted, developing other team members, and setting your organization up for greater continuity and success!

Do your managers need help learning to delegate? That’s what we do!

Contact us now.

Alyson Van Hooser

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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