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One of the main components to a successful business is hardworking, talented employees. From the skilled laborer to the foreman to the front office operations manager--each role is critical in keeping the machine functioning at a high level. Like any part in a machine, neglect can lead to a costly breakdown. It will leave the business struggling to keep up with its customer project obligations and competitors in the marketplace.

Investing in human assets with a succession planning strategy sets the company up for continued growth. It also builds a tight-knit relationship with employees that sets the foundation for success into the future. A well-executed succession planning strategy can harvest the knowledge of the top talent in the organization while engaging employees and grooming them for future opportunities.

Leaders should keep the following tips in mind when implementing a succession planning strategy.

Engage Employees in the Process

According to a recent Gallup survey, a disengaged employee costs a company nearly $2,500 a year. The same survey reveals that companies with engaged employees grew profits as much as three times faster than their competitors.

Engaged employees take ownership in the company for which they are working. When they can see where their hard work and dedication is leading in the form of a career path, and how it ties into the needs of the company, they are more apt to perform at a high level. Engagement will lead to motivation and dedication and, ultimately, a win-win relationship.

It all starts with open communication between employees and leaders about succession planning. Understanding the company’s goals and objectives for the year and how each employee's role and growth fits into that success can light a fire. If employees don’t know how the company is measuring success, they won’t know how they can help it get there. If they don’t know where they are going in the company, they’ll feel stagnant and lose any motivation toward innovating.

Implement Consistent Employee Assessments

Feedback is critical for a company that wants to grow and be successful. Through consistent feedback and evaluations, training courses, 360 reviews, certifications and the ability to report against those benchmarks, leaders can identify and avert any upcoming talent gaps, which lead to costly breakdowns.

Succession planning also helps identify the crucial skills of the workforce and which career path makes the most sense for each employee. This will take the guessing game out of “who goes where” while avoiding time lost grooming employees for jobs they don’t want and aren’t suited for. Once competency measures and consistent employee assessments are in place, the company can begin implementing their succession planning strategy with confidence.

Create Ongoing Development and Learning Opportunities

As Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" says: “People like to cherry-pick the parts of their career that they're either in the midst of or that they're the most proud of, but the truth is careers and lives are tapestries.” By creating ongoing development and learning opportunities for employees, that tapestry becomes more vibrant. Learning sets the stage for a career path that propels the business and employee forward to a successful, and profitable, future together.

A robust learning management system (LMS) serves as a great hub for in-house training materials for learning and development. A good LMS ensures a central and consistent base for everyone to work from as they develop the skills that will move them further down their defined career path, while also keeping the company on top of compliance. It’s yet another opportunity to increase engagement, validate employee worth and evaluate possible talent gaps.

Without a good plan, a company can plan to fail. It’s as simple as that. When it comes to the employees keeping the machine running, investing in succession planning is money well spent. Through continual engagement, assessment and development, the company empowers its employees to maintain that well-oiled machine for years to come.

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