HR for Beginners 101: Succession Planning

Has Your Company Been Succession Planning?

What is succession planning? In business, succession planning is the actions of developing internal employees who have potential to fill essential leadership roles within a company. It is a strategy that can be developed in an organization for identifying and developing future leaders for all major roles at all levels. This often includes having the right financial structure in place so that the value of your business continues to increase down the road.

Who should succession plan? If you have a team member who you know is going to be leaving the company, it is best to start succession planning to avoid being caught off guard and becoming disoriented. Maybe your company has had a hire turnover recently and its becoming hard to keep up with filling the vacant roles. Remember, employees are fixed assets and changes in your team will eventually happen. Organizations who plan to expand their operations and who have the issues mentioned should definitely have a succession plan in place.

Why should I succession plan? Being prepared for the likely event of losing key employees as the organization expands is always a good idea. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s 2006 survey suggested that one third of owners of independent businesses plan to exit their business within 5 years and the remaining two thirds plan to exit within the next 10 years. Succession planning will support ownership future goals by ensuring that the company is prepared for the transfer of power and that the leaders in a company are educated, qualified and skilled enough to manage the longevity of the business. A smooth transition to filling vacant company roles alleviates a ton of potential problems and bottlenecks.

When should I succession plan? When your company is starting to take off. Another ideal time to succession plan is when a person is hired and at the very beginning of the employee development process or program. Reviews of your succession plan should be something that should happen frequently throughout the year. Once you start, it should become continual.

Here are a few tips to kickstart your succession planning:

  • identify the key roles in the organization and the impact they have on the company/department
  • pinpoint the competencies needed to undertake each role
  • list the pools of talent that could fill and perform well in the key roles
  • choose the team members and let them know why they are becoming proteges
  • develop employees in ways to prepare them for advancement into key roles like allowing for job rotations and invest in professional development
  • integrate the new succession plan into your hiring strategy
  • test the succession plan to make sure the protégé has what it takes (for example: have a protégé assume responsibilities of a manager who is taking vacation)

Contact our HR Specialist – Vanessa Gerard ( for your succession planning needs.

Micro Business Assessment

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Has is it been a while since you’ve looked at your business? Maybe you’re a new business owner and are looking for some insight about your business. Or maybe it is that time of year again? Time to assess what your business has succeeded in or what it is struggling with. If you’re a business owner and you don’t do complete a business assessment at least once a year, what the heck are you waiting for? Would you like to know what the business has accomplished? And what it needs to work on? You know, so it can keep improving? Of course you do. That’s why you’re here reading this.

Below are the steps you need to take to complete a Micro Business Assessment.


Separate yourself from your business. The point is to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your business, NOT you or your teams.  


Make a list of things that are working well in tour business.

Make a list of your challenges. This can be setbacks the business has had or any specific challenge the business has faced or is facing. It can also include goals that haven’t been met. (Again, not PERSONAL challenges and avoid the use of “I” statements)


With the list of challenges, divide each issue from “Make List of Your Challenges” into three columns:    

1. Key reasons for the challenge

2. Things you can change

3. Things you cannot change


Do the same with the list of things working well. Divide each item in the “Things That Are Working Well” into three columns:

1. Key reasons for it working well

2. Things you could change to improve it even more

3. Things that should stay the same for it to keep working well

Business owners can use this exercise as a baseline in a much more expansive and overall in depth business assessment. It is a good exercise to use when your business may be facing new situations, if your considering expanding operations, or if you’re thinking of hiring more people for your team.

FAQ: How do I know if my business is ready to outsource?

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Small business owners are some of the most incredible people on the planet. They have created a business from the ground up because they are doing something they are passionate about whether it be operating a restaurant, selling a product that they have invented, or constructing houses. It takes passion to become a successful entrepreneur and many painstaking hours to perfect a craft. On top of all that, they are also business owners – some without any formal education in business.

These small business owners wear dozens of hats a day! They may wear a chef hat, a construction hat, a doctor’s hat – all sorts of day time hats. During the quiet evenings at home they may wear a marketing director hat, a training & development hat, a bookkeeping hat, an operations manager hat, and so forth. All of these hats that small business owners are required to fit into can eventually begin wearing them down to the point of exhaustion and they may even begin making mistakes that their business cannot afford.

There are a few signs that you may recognize in your business, or within yourself, that may point to the fact that…. Maybe it is time to start outsourcing some of your business activities to a professional.

  1. Productivity May Be Dwindling.

You’re always falling behind with work. You feel like you have more work ahead of you than time to handle it. Perhaps your revenue is not growing at the rate you’ve been expecting or planned it to. You don’t have the time to sit down and analyze WHY it is happening. The mere fact that most of your work day is consumed with day to day activities to the point where you are unable to innovate your business and your strategies for the long term – it is plain to see. You should be outsourcing the tasks you can’t necessarily make enough time for.

2. The Skill Is Only Temporarily Needed or Needed on a Cyclical Basis.

Sometimes, business owners come with the idea that maybe they should hire a “jack of all trades” type of person. Maybe hire a manager who is capable of wearing all of the hats that they do not want. While this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it may not be all that it was planned to be. Getting your managers to handle situations or do tasks that make them uncomfortable (or in their job scopes) may place a ton of stress on them, and can ultimately distract them from performing their primary job functions. Hiring multi-faceted individuals is a great idea, but, hiring an expert on particular subject matter may actually be the most desirable, cost and time effective choice out of them all.

3. Aspects of Your Business Are In Trouble

You may have a team that are handling a wide variety of tasks for you under the company roof. But that doesn’t mean that they are taken care in a way that is satisfying your client’s expectations. You may notice that these great employees are struggling to reach your company and client’s standards. This indicates that outsourcing the work to a professional who specializes in that area would be of considerable benefit to your employees. They will be just as relieved as you are that these difficult and time consuming tasks will be taken care of for them and leaves them the time to crunch down on some impactful work for the company.

“The key is not in spending time, but in investing it.”

-Steven R. Covey
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FAQ: What are the benefits to Human Resource outsourcing?

More often than not, we are asked this question a ton while speaking to organizations about their HR needs. So, you don’t need to feel bad about being unsure. There are many clients who ask this question and we get excited that we can explain it to them. Nothing really quite shines our shoes more than describing all of the benefits of human resource outsourcing! Let’s get into it.

  1. You Get More Time In Your Day. How? Because when you outsource your HR needs, all of your people problems are directed to a professional. All of the “Am I breaking any laws or regulations?” and “How do I motivate my team and keep them on their toes?” type questions are no longer the dark cloud over your head. That dark cloud now belongs to a professional that has your back.
  2. You Can Focus On Essential Business Tasks. Outsourcing HR handles a lot of the stress causing work that management face during their work weeks. Things such as employee disputes, payroll complications, law and policy compliance, dealing with terminations, training the new guy, and constantly thinking of ways to keep your teams motivated and to be consistently successful. Now, let’s envision what your work weeks would look like with all of that extra time to focus on the most essential business tasks. You can bet your lucky loonie – that’s what success looks like.
  3. You Get A People Expert “Side Kick”. All of the worries you may have had when it comes to managing your team (which we are positive you do for a good portion of your work day) are now someone else’s worries. The only difference is, is that this ‘someone else’ is an expert that can handle all of these concerns with confidence. You don’t need to worry about finding the solution because we will have it delivered directly to your door step.
  4. Leave It To the Experts. We know that most business owners are nervous about handing off so much responsibility to a third party. They have built a business that they are passionate about and don’t want that to be compromised. But, that is the exact reason it should be outsourced. Industry professionals can help protect your business from things that you may have never known about. HR professionals do the tedious work of combing through laws and regulations to ensure your company is in compliance and avoids being penalized or fined.
  5. Opportunity Cost. What is the hottest commodity out there that all business owners wish they had more of? Time. Yes, time is the most valuable asset that all business owners have (and need more of). Time equals opportunity. So, when considering outsourcing your HR, you should weigh the cost of time spent doing HR activities yourself compared to the opportunities that open up when it is outsourced to a professional. You can really hone in on major projects, you will have time to focus on strategy, on finances, on expansions, anything that you have been putting off. You name it. There are many opportunities waiting to be taken.