Construction Succession Planning Insights You Never Knew You Needed
One overlooked area of managing a construction enterprise is the one of succession planning. Construction succession planning is often difficult because of the large number of small businesses in the industry. Small companies are more prone to overlook succession planning and they have unique characteristics to consider, like family connections.
Succession planning is all about people. You want to prepare people to assume management and leadership roles when those positions become open from retirements, illness, death or people quitting. There is also a bonus to succession planning. It feeds into your recruiting strategies and helps you to focus on the traits you need when considering candidates for management and leadership roles.
In small firms it’s tempting to use an ad hoc process where you simply identify the most logical people to take the reins when someone leaves. The problem is that it’s so informal you never really get around to preparing the person to handle the new role they’re expected to fill. It also does little in helping you to identify the best candidates for replacements and new hires. Instead, why not make it a formal process? Here’s how.
1. Focus on Job Requirements Not Personalities
You aren’t trying to replace someone, or get someone different than the person currently filling role. Instead, you are trying to fill a position. So, write job descriptions for each role needing succession. As you write them, apply a lot of common sense. Too many job descriptions require candidates to literally do everything. That’s not realistic. Make your job descriptions real by only including the work necessary to fulfill the role.
2. Match Current Staff to Future Needs
Think about each position needing succession coverage and match one or more people to each. In doing so you need to consider not only aptitude and skills but also the preferences of the individuals. This step ties in with your career planning efforts in helping employees grow into their next roles. Talk to people. Make sure you understand their goals and concerns.
3. Train and Provide Hands-on Experience
Set up a training program for each role. You want to focus on the key aspects of the duties as well as the background work. Your trainee must know how to do all aspects of the job plus be able to find and use all the job tools. This includes credentials for accessing information and using software. A training program can be as simple as listing the required knowledge the person must have, the steps you’ll take to train them, and what constitutes success.
4. Set Up Staffing/Retention Plan
This plan maps out the job positions you have along with the descriptions. It includes projections about when people are expected to move into the next position in their career track as well as jobs you expect to fill from outside the organization. It’s likely you will have roles requiring succession but won’t have people to fill them. Those needs should become part of your hiring plans as revenue permits. If you have key roles with no one slated for succession you’ll have to use a temporary fix until you have someone available. One option is to train and assign someone as successor who has a role similar to the one you need to fill. So, a project manager might take over for the owner when needed, or a superintendent might switch to a project manager role until the emergency has passed, or you hire someone.