The top management must have a clear idea of the company’s goals and means required to achieve itEmployers regularly plan for a future situation when a key employee would want to leave and implement it for a smooth transition in absence of that employee. This process is called “anticipatory workforce planning”, specifically referred to as succession planning. A crucial aspect of business development, it is imperative for the long-term success of any organisation. These plans also serve as a tool to retain the strongest performers, who tend to be the type of employees who evaluate their career graph continuously.Most employers understand the benefits of having a succession plan and invest resources to formulate a robust strategy to fill key positions and maintain continuity.Here are 7 steps for implementing a succession plan successfully:Know who you are as a companyA succession planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. The top management must have a clear idea of the company’s goals and means required to achieve it. For example, a power supply provider will require employees with a different skill-set than a car manufacturer. So, clearly defined roles can help in hiring suitable people.Assess your entire organisationStart early. Identify the positions and qualifications that are essential to your company’s success and write them down for referring to them when you need to. Clearly defining which company position needs what qualifications, experience, and other “soft skills” (like customer relations abilities) are crucial to an organisation’s success.Evaluate your workforceThe next step is evaluating the workforce strength and seeing whether you could lose employees with skills necessary to run the organisation. Ask yourself: Which employees are about to retire or will become unavailable in the near future? Prepare a list and build a talent pool.Identify star performersOnce you have done the evaluation objectively, you need to identify star performers and the critical roles they perform. Remember, sometimes your strongest performers aren’t the most visible. Try not to lose them, but prepare for a situation if they move out. As an interim solution, have a back-up of two-three employees who could deliver in the absence of these assets and then keep looking for people who could fill the gap.Discuss with your employeesA regular conversation with employees helps an employer better understand their needs and goals. Try to assure them about their insecurities, if any, and acknowledge their justified requirements. Be prepared, however, that not all employees would be interested in discussing their plans.Company cultureA succession plan done right helps improve retention and maintain a company culture. It is important to communicate why and how an employee was tapped for promotion, or not. You need to be prepared to explain your position why some employees were not deemed fit to be moved up and what improvements are required.Success doesn’t have to be verticalThere are situations when employees, despite doing their job well, can’t be promoted either because they are not interested in moving up or lack qualifications that the new job profile would demand. In such situations, the definition of growth needs to be expanded. These employees need to know their work is valued. Also, their roles can be expanded to train fresh recruits or they can be encouraged to speak at industry conferences.