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Hans F. Hansen

Succession Planning…

Thanks again for the feedback following last week’s blog – this will be the last post for this year and we are already looking forward to sharing more ideas in 2020.

One of the reasons we wanted to finish the year with succession planning is because this blog is primarily about our experience in delivering Lead to Succeed, the Skills for Care programme for leaders and managers in the Health and Social Care sector. Our experience time and again has shown that team leaders, senior managers and supervisors all benefit from attending Lead to Succeed. I have lost count of the number of people who have said, “I am so glad I was able to attend, because I learnt x and it had a tremendous impact on y”.

According to the Skills for Care “State of the Workforce” Report released in October, the average age of the social care workforce is 44 and 440,000 people left their role during 2018/19 (12 month period). In addition, 31% of managers are aged over 55; this means that, if the trend continues, we will run out of managers at some point soon. (The vacancy rate amongst managers is 11.4% (double the national average) and 22% of registered managers left their role during 2018/19).

The State of the Workforce Report shows that, as experience increases for managers, the turnover rate decreases. However, the fact that 31% of managers are over 55 and potentially approaching retirement means succession planning is a vital part of a sustainable business.

So what is it…
Google defines succession planning as: a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave or retire…

However, a different definition which caught my attention was: Succession planning entails developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company….

If we are therefore going to develop the “internal people with potential”, the first step must be to identify those people. We have talked about this before: you will know who is willing in your team and you will also know (as far as is possible) who it is going to be worth investing your time in because it will require an investment of time on your part, though the reward is potentially well worth it.

Given that recruitment and retention is such a big issue in the sector, we have to find creative ways to find staff and hang on to them when you have found them. Neil Eastwood has agreed to guest on our blog in the New Year about exactly this topic and I am really looking forward to hearing his ideas.

Succession planning is a way to hang on to the people we find with potential. If you don’t hang on to them, they will only be working for someone else, taking all of their potential with them when they go. This always makes me think of the meme:

Perhaps we can take the focus away from training, because that always conjures up visions of cost and time and focus more on the learning element of succession planning.

In fact, allow me to share a real-life example: an attendee on a Lead to Succeed course that I facilitated in 2019 shared how they were experiencing issues when new residents moved into the setting because the staff didn’t know them. Essentially, they described that staff would naturally gravitate towards the residents they knew and already had relationships with.

What they did was identify “the potential” that we described earlier and began to include those carers and seniors in the assessment process, so that when any new resident arrived in the setting, they knew a minimum of one member of staff and vice versa. That member of staff was then tasked with introducing the new resident to the other members of staff. However, a by-product of this process was that the staff began to learn and find out about the processes that go on before a resident arrives and, as they put it, “how much managers have to do!”

It might be a straightforward example but it had a big impact and didn’t cost anything (apart from a small investment of time, and yes I do know how precious that is). This meets my “is the idea simple, cost effective and impactful” measure.

Can you find something to do with that member of staff that you really want to hang on to, that isn’t going to cost any money and potentially will have a measurable impact? Well, succession planning might just be it because, whilst it will require an investment of time, all you would be doing is cascading and sharing your knowledge and skills with someone else.

Shameless plug coming up… One of the things I have seen in facilitating Lead to Succeed (as I alluded to in the introduction) is the number of seniors, team leaders and supervisors who have benefited enormously from completing this programme. Why not find the potential in your organisation and expose them to Lead to Succeed and see what happens?

If time is an issue, start with something small like the example I shared above and hang on to that “potential” whenever you find it.

See you in the New Year and look out for Neil Eastwood’s guest appearance…

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