Imagine this scenario: Your team member with tacit knowledge, decades of experience, and brand loyalty becomes functionally irreplaceable. No one on the team can replicate their knowledge and skills to make your products because no matter how hard you look, the modern job pool no longer has prospects with the know-how or the capability to train these very specialized skills. Production outlook skews from valuing their presence as an asset to dreading the obstruction caused by their absence. One day a cold chill runs down your spine. This team member is going to retire in three years.
Breaking Norms of Succession Planning
This reality is becoming increasingly common as 10,000 people (about the seating capacity of Cameron basketball stadium at Duke University) retire each day in the United States, but it comes with unique challenges to the norms of succession planning. Retirement is immune to the perception that succession plans are used as a threat or vote of weak confidence. Retirement is immune to questions about company politics, confusion about methodology, and weighing short term gains versus long term strategy. In this scenario, you know the exact date when you will need to replicate their exact responsibilities, or your business is in crisis. The question you must ask yourself now is if you could not find a person to replicate your irreplaceable team member’s precision, loyalty, and skills in decades, how challenging will it be to find someone in a few years? Do any of these scenarios sound familiar:
“Jim has always ran our presses because he knows how to change metrics that are impacted by the daily humidity and temperature.”
“Judy has owned doing that dirty job for 10 years but who is going to do that dirty job when she retires.”
“Bob has been breaking his back for years stacking those bags and every time we tried getting him help we had an injury.”
“Nobody else has the steady hands or know how like Tom and he is the only one that has assembled this part of the product for years.”
Succession Planning is Not a Game
The Society for Human Resource Management likened Succession Planning in the modern economy to chess in that even the most intricate plans grooming replacement employees are subject to uncertainties multiple moves ahead and can end with the realization you lost in the first few moves. Modern succession planning requires years of candidate vetting, professional grooming, employee training, setbacks caused by talent poaching, executive accountability, and constant diligence from leadership. While we do not agree that succession planning is a game, we do want to educate you in the domino effects to consider when trying to find a human successor:
Company politics: You must weigh employee relationships or risk your stability
What if your valuable employees start feeling insecure about the succession planning announcement? You are going to have to throw a lot of effort into convincing your staff not to update their resumes ‘just in case.’ If you promote from within, you are going to have multiple team members competing for the job, only one person can take it, what if the coworker you want to promote has less tenure than your other candidate? If you decide to groom an outsider, will you engender distrust from internal options that feel they deserve the promotion? You need to invest a lot of time and resources into not alienating the employees you have.
Management of succession
Does HR manage the succession process? The CEO? The irreplaceable employee? Who determines what progress looks like? Who is responsible if a candidate is not meeting expectations? You will need to determine early on how the leadership in your succession plan is structured.
You can create timelines, set deadlines, and outline benchmarks, but the transition is only complete when the successor is prepared to assume all responsibilities. Each timeline must make provisions for shadowing, training, and resources related to having two people working the same responsibilities. There are no one size fits all solutions, so there will be no guarantees on the timeline.
Hard to recover from setbacks
What do you do if you get a year into the succession plan and your top candidate decides to take a job with another company? You have lost that year, and now you only have two years to groom the next replacement. What if your irreplaceable employee needs to retire early? Have you made provisions for the possibility that an accident, personal reasons, or other random life events can remove someone from the candidate pool at any stage of the succession process?
Promoting within requires multiple succession plans
You have found the perfect candidate, you are confident to move forward, you want to promote from within. Who promotes to their old position? Do you need a ladder of succession plans all the way down?
Considerate Succession Planning with Robots
DEVELOP LLC has solved these succession problems for customers with custom machines and robotic integrations. Our project managers, engineers, and manufacturers have perfected custom automation integrations that work a long side a retiring team member and capture their precise skills, diverse ownerships, and unstated responsibilities. We sunset their retirement into the process so you can preserve their dignity, respect their loyalty, and maintain their legacy while transitioning. We understand a person cannot be replaced, but our manufacturing experts can integrate automations that can handle multiple functions and other secondary operations.
We take ownership of the timelines established by our project management team as follows:
Evaluate and quote the project: 1-6 months
We respect that every automation integration requires goal setting with the swiftest return on investment as possible. Our team of engineers, manufacturing experts, and project managers target your business needs, create efficient solutions, and mitigate risks with intricate planning.
Pass the Board: 3-6 months
We work with your leadership to understand and finalize the plans so everyone from the CEO to the machine tender can understand the scope of the automation integration and commit.
Build and integrate custom automation: 6-24 months
We take ownership of the engineering, software, and hardware involved with your custom automation. We test, we install, and we educate for beyond our other competitors. We partner with our clients to make them self-reliant.
We want to bring stability, longevity, consistency, scalability, and swift return on investment to your automation integration. Tell us more about your project, schedule a virtual meeting, or call (262)-622-6104 to learn more about how we can help you with your succession plan.