Category Archives: Blog

Marketing Goals

Marketing goals provide the direction of your marketing campaign. Without goals, it is impossible to know what needs to be done. Goals need to be long-term, broad, and provide aspirations for what you want to achieve through marketing. Once the goals are established, you need to create specific objectives and plans to help reach your goals.

Brand Switching

Increasing your market share is one of the main goals of marketing. Customers are not easily swayed from choosing a product or service they have become accustomed to and used for a long time. Having a customer choose your unknown product over your competitors known and trusted product takes a special set of circumstances. Releasing a new or improved product is a great time to make that push and poach consumers away from your competition.

Despite your goal for brand changing, customers do not always accept change easily. The transition requires effective advertising. The marketing needs to focus on improvements for the customer, but it also needs to show advantages in price, quality, and availability. Switching can also move the other way, so listen, and give your customers a voice and they will feel more connected. It will make it harder for your competition to steal your market share.

Repeat Purchases

Repeat customers are essential to your business. They make up a majority of your sales, and you can count on them to share your brand with their friends. It is important to remember repeat customers on your marketing campaign, especially since you spend less money engaging repeat customers. Repeat purchases require you to build relationships. Fortunately, there are different ways to improve relationships with customers and create repeat purchases. They are found in a variety of marketing strategies.

  • Customer service
  • Loyalty programs
  • Incentives
  • Personal communication
  • Direct mail

Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is the loyalty that customers show to your brand. This can be seen through actions such as repurchases, and paying more for the products than competitors charge, and investing time in the purchase. Think about the lines at stores when the iPads were released. Loyal customers can be turned into brand champions for the company. Brand champions provide the word of mouth marketing that will improve the brand and increase the customer base.

Brand Champions:

  • Draft them: Find satisfied customers who fully understand and appreciate your brand.
  • Interact with them: Thank brand champions for their purchases, surveys, comments, and contributions, and begin building a closer relationship with them.
  • Give them perks: Offer brand champions loyalty rewards and special perks for providing testimonials or sharing your brand with others.
  • Listen to them: Champions provide excellent feedback. Take their praise and criticism seriously.

Inform and Educate

Marketing must do more than appeal to emotions, certain marketing methods need to inform and educate customers. The best way to inform customers and educate people about your product is through content. Content is provided through different media:

  • Blogs
  • Webcast
  • Social media
  • Newsletters
  • White papers

The content needs to be relevant, interesting, and well written (or well edited in the case of a webcast). When creating content, it is important to focus on one topic at a time, and use subheadings to break up information. This will allow customers to focus on small portions of information at a time.

This post is from May’s topic on Marketing Basics, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program online from Harvard Square.

Communicating the Right Way

Communication is essential to successful marketing. Poor or unfocused communication will not help close a sale. Communication requires practice, understanding of value, and entertainment. It is also essential that all communication occur through the media that will best reach the customers.

The Marketing Pitch

The marketing pitch is a traditional method of communication. Done correctly, it will create interest in your product. If it is done incorrectly, potential customers will lose interest quickly. The pitch may take place in person or online. Regardless of the method, there are basic steps that will improve the success of the pitch.

  • Be concise: Pitches need to be short and focused (30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on your situation). A pitch is an introduction; so do not overload it with information, and never ramble.
  • Write it down: Write down your pitch ahead of time, focusing on a few unique selling points.
  • Practice: Practice your pitch in the mirror and in front of others. Make changes as necessary.

Sell Value, Not the Price

When communicating with consumers, the message shouldn’t be all about better or lower prices; it should be about the value and service you can offer. Only 1/3 of customers completely base purchases on price. Most customers are looking for value. In order to sell value to customers, you need to understand what it is they value. Knowing your target market is essential to this process. For example, young, eco-friendly customers are willing to pay more for products that reduce their carbon footprints. Once you have established the values of your market, you need to follow a few basic guidelines.

  • Link company strengths with value for consumers.
  • Be confident on your product.
  • Offer extraordinary service.

Fun and Entertaining is Powerful

Communication should be all facts and figures. While it is important for potential customers to understand everything that you have to offer, you need to catch and maintain their interest. Fun and entertaining communication will easily catch the interest of your target market. Additionally, entertaining content will help customers forget that you are trying to sell them something, and they are likely to discuss the marketing attempt with others. For example, consider the commercials that air during the Super Bowl and how much attention people are willing to give them.

Choosing the Right Media

It is impossible to communicate with your target audience if you do not use the correct media. For example, overlooking social media for younger customers will almost guarantee that they do not receive your communication. Choosing the right media depends on your customer and your budget.

Types of Media:

  • Radio: This media only reaches a small group, but you can focus exclusively on your target market.
  • Television: The media reaches a broader group, but it is expensive and the message may be ignored with DVRs.
  • Publications: Reach your target market in specific publications.
  • Internet: Banner ads and SEO broaden the market.
  • Social media: Social media allows customers to follow and share, but it requires monitoring and maintenance.

This post is from May’s topic on Marketing Basics, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program online from Harvard Square.

You Are Not an Island

Sometimes, as a manager, we can feel like we are on our own little island doing our job as intended. But don’t forget to look up and see your team of employees that are there to work for and with you, as well as partners in upper management. No one can manage everything by themselves, and will need to reach out from time to time. Sometimes we find that we may need to reach out to those we’ve just met, or even someone we thought we’d left behind.

Never Burn a Bridge

Whether you left another company to come to this one or you are moving departments, there is always a bridge behind you that is moving you forward. Our natural instinct is to let out our frustrations on the people you no longer have to see, but burning that bridge behind you won’t erase the past and could harm your future. You never know when or where you’ll need to face the company or person again. You’ll want to ensure if you do meet again or if you ever need their assistance (a reference perhaps), that you’ll be in their favor.


  • Leave with notice, if possible.
  • Do not leave in anger – keep all negative comments and frustrations to yourself.
  • Thank the manager or HR for your time at the company. They will remember your gracious attitude when they are called for a reference.

Take the High Road

“Taking the high road” simply means to make a decision based on moral, or to act ethically. When faced with a difficult decision, the manager should ‘take the high road’ to either resolve the problem or correct what they might have done wrong. The key to doing this is to have certain boundaries and use them when needed. Acknowledge the position someone else may hold, even if you do not like it or agree with them, and then use your boundaries to express your side with being negative or unethical. Even if the situation is not any better, it certainly did not get worse.

Helpful tips:

  • Take a deep breath and think about what should be done, rather than what is currently being done.
  • Think about the kind of person you want to exhibit to those around you – show it in your actions.
  • Remember that we all have disagreements and make mistakes. How would you want the other person to treat you in you were in their shoes?

Trust is a Two-Way Street

Employees want to trust their manager and depend on them for their needs at work. It is important for the manager to build trust between themselves and their employees, especially since this may help repair any trust deficiencies made somewhere else. When managers show trust in their employees and believe in their hard work, employees will continue to strive to do well for their managers and show their trust in return.

Tips to help build trust:

  • Show confidence in your employees.
  • Be honest and tell the truth, even if it makes you look bad or puts you at a disadvantage.
  • Demonstrate that your words are consistent with your actions – make due on your promises.

Don’t Hide in Your Office

Office employees count on their managers to be leaders and want to know that they are there to face tough office situation when they arise. Some managers try to find the benefit of staying in their office, perhaps to gain focus or ignore non-office related chatter, but in reality it is actually hurting the team they are trying to focus on. When the manager spends most of their time behind a closed door, employees begin to feel neglected and can start to resent their manager. Make it a point to come out of the office and speak with your employees and how they are doing on the job. Your employees will respect you more as a coworker and an ally then the stuffy manager that hides behind closed doors.

Getting Support for Your Projects

Sometimes it can seem hard to gain support behind your office projects, but don’t throw in the towel so early. Some of the key aspects of gaining support are building relationships with the staff, making allies that can give you a boost, and not being afraid to show others what you have to offer. Using honest and ‘good’ politics cannot only gain support for any project you may be carrying, but will propel your career forward without burning bridges behind you.

Gain Trust Through Honesty

A manager that instills confidence and mutual trust creates an office environment that holds to high standards and clear ethics. Although office politics can make some people think of terms like deception and trickery. Keep in mind that honesty and trust will provide a more powerful and lasting benefit to the employee and propel their career further. Don’t lie or cover up recent mistakes you might have made. Be open about steps you’ve had to take to correct situations.  When asked for statistics or reports for your project, offer them freely. It’s important to build trusting relationships that people can depend on to gain support over time. Relationships built on dishonesty and misguidances do not hold up.

Helpful tips:

  • Be polite an honest with coworkers.
  • Be open with others and don’t be afraid to ‘tell it like it is” rather than beat around the bush.
  • Don’t use deception and lies, or ‘bad’ politics to get ahead.

Be Assertive

Being assertive can often be misconstrued as being mean or just being a jerk. But belittling, intimidating or trying to control those that could very well help you will cause trouble in the office and will cause you to lose others’ respect. Being assertive requires one to be confident without being aggressive. Don’t be afraid to say what you want or need, and as long you do it tactfully and respectfully. If your answer is no, don’t give up right away. Regroup and rethink what you need to do in order to go for your goal.

Helpful tips:

  • Be confident, but not arrogant.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection or criticism.
  • State what you want or intend to gain. Don’t beat around the bush or use smoke and mirrors.

Blow Your Own Horn

One of the best ways to gain support for your cause is to let others know what you have accomplished or what you can bring to the table in the future. Be cautious of the fine line between blowing your horn and downright bragging or being boastful. When speaking with those who can potentially give the support you need, subtly add in some of your recent successes or a good comment made on your last evaluation. Once they see your value and potential, you will have more people on your side next time you present your case in a staff meeting. Keep your comments truthful and realistic. Be sure not to just make up great things to say – those that want to back you will most likely check their facts first.

Make Allies

Don’t underestimate the power and value of having allies not only in your department, but other departments as well. To win them over, take time to learn how you can help and contribute with your time. Staying on good terms with different department heads can put you right in the middle of the networking movement in the company, and allow you to tap into every department when needed. This also allows you to not only build credibility, but strong office alliances that will prove very helpful.

Helpful tips:

  • Alliances are not built overnight. Be committed.
  • Offer your time to help other departments and managers. If you want them to do it for you, be willing to do it for them.
  • Don’t underestimate the little guys. Many alliances start small.

Trust Your Team of Managers

Sometimes we forget that it can take an entire team to run a project or office. But when you have a team of managers, it is important to remember their unique traits and qualities that made them part of the team. Know that they made it onto your team for a reason, and that they were taught everything they needed to know to start out. Trust that you have taught them well and rely on them to do a good job.

Do Not Micromanage

Assuring that your managers do a good job without crossing the line into micromanaging can be hard for anyone. It can be hard to navigate through the office without wanting to constantly check in on them or offer your input randomly. One of the best ways to remedy this is to; first of all, trust your managers and their job abilities. Once you can do that, you can let the manager seek accountability for their actions and own their responsibilities. When they feel in charge of their position and themselves, managers will perform better and not feel as though you are breathing down their neck to do so.

Promote Open and Honest Communication

One thing that can hinder a relationship among managers is poor communication. It’s easy to believe that your managers will always be forward with you and will have no trouble approaching you with problems; but this isn’t necessarily true for some groups. To ensure your employees feel comfortable with you and with each other, promote communication that is open and honest with each other. Allow everyone to give their input and to not hold back on their wants and needs. Be responsive to them and support feedback from others. Having this type of communication builds respect among the group and helps build trust along the way.

Reward Initiative

Managing your team and helping them grow can be a challenging experience. As a leader, it is important to encourage initiative among your managers and motivate them to do better. One way to accomplish this is to by rewarding the initiative that managers take on the job. Whether they reached out to help other employees or took on a new task by themselves, managers are always showing us how they are taking on more initiative.

In return, upper management should reward these actions and can do so in various ways. Some rewards include simple recognitions, gifts, or even promotions. When the manager feels rewarded for the hard work they’ve embarked on, they are more willing to take pride in their work and continue doing a good job. It is important to recognize the initiative itself, and not just the outcome.

Trust, But Verify

“Trust, but verify” is a common tool used by many leaders today in helping manage their group of employees. We can’t always assume the job is done right; sometimes the work needs to be verified or reviewed. It doesn’t involve micromanaging, but it involves periodic steps of checking in or verifying an employee’s work. Common methods include asking an employee to send an email when they are finished with certain phases or setting reminders to speak with the manager in person to check on progress. Managers often make the mistake that previous information is automatically absorbed and understood and overlook the need for verification. But taking a few minutes to look over any project periodically can save everyone a lot of time and man hours in the event that something needs to be corrected.

This post is from March’s topic on Manager Management, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program online from Harvard Square.

Grooming a New Manager

Bringing in a new member to the management team is never easy. If you hire from within, they have to learn to transition from their previous position to this new one. If you hire from outside the company, the new employee will have to be taught everything from scratch. But with a little patience and open communication, you can groom your new manager for success in their position.

Set Specific Goals

When training a new manager, one of the first things to accomplish is to establish what goals you and the manager want to achieve. Ask the manager what they want to accomplish and find ways to work together to reach it. Set goals that are realistic and can be achieved by the employee in a reasonable amount of time. Be specific about what you want them to achieve and note the progress you want to see from them. The more detailed plan they have, the better they are equipped to know what is expected of them.

Authority (What They Can and Can’t Do)

One of the hardest responsibilities a new manager has is asserting their authority to their employees. Many come across as too mean or overbearing, but when they back off they can seem like a pushover. A helpful tool is to create a list or diagram about what the manager has authority over and what areas they cannot control. Sometimes there can be a gray area that new managers can get lost in, so it is important to outline these things in the beginning. Also let the manager know who they can come to if they run into a problem, whether it is you or another person in command. Don’t throw them to the sharks without a life preserver.

Create a Shared Vision

When a new manager is introduced, it is best to create a shared vision with them to help establish what you want to see happen. This will also benefit both parties as they can share what they are hoping to achieve. The new manager will need the proper support from management to succeed, so it is important to work with them from the beginning. Speak openly with them and let them know what you want from them. Let them speak openly with you about what they want and how they plan to get there. Together, form a vision with realistic goals that you can both work to help the other achieve. Once a plan has been made, schedule a follow-up meeting to let them know how they are doing and what kinds of progress has been made.

The More They Learn, the More Responsibility They Get

Becoming a new manager is a learning process. It wouldn’t be expected for them to know or handle everything from the get go. To help them ease into their new position, start the manager out with a fair load of responsibility and duties. Monitor how they handle themselves and if they make progress. As they grow and learn, gauge how they would handle new or different responsibilities. Sometimes adding a new project or assignment gradually can help them have hands on learning while gaining new responsibilities. With anything new, moderation is a key. Don’t overload the manager too quickly or they could lose interest and fail to succeed in their position.

This post is from March’s topic on Manager Management, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program online from Harvard Square.

The Benefits of Networking

The term “networking” is frequently tossed around the business world. It is easy to talk about networking, but implementing it is another matter, particularly when you have to go beyond the confines of the workplace. Fortunately, you will improve your networking skills when you create a solid network and position yourself for success. Networking outside of your company takes time and energy, but the reward is certainly worth the effort.

Create a Solid Network

Creating a solid network requires you to make connections. It is not enough to simply meet people; you need to meet the right people, people who are likely to develop a professional relationship with you. This requires you to search for connections carefully.

Where to find possible connections:

  • Referrals: Ask friends, peers, or family to introduce you to like-minded people. You never know who you might meet.
  • Join groups: Professional societies offer numerous opportunities to meet new people and make connections.
  • Attend events: Networking events can be intimidating, but they are essential. You may not make useful connections at every event, but you will not make any connections staying home.

Meet Strategic Alliance Partners

Strategic alliance partners are made when two companies work together on a joint venture. The partnership may be formal or informal. When two separate businesses begin to work together, however, tension is inevitable. This is why you need to carefully screen potential strategic alliance partners.

This is where networking is indispensable. Since strategic alliance partners need a mutually beneficial working relationship, so you need to get to know your partners ahead of time. You may choose to partner with someone you already know or work with someone new. There are strategic alliance partner networking groups to help you make valuable connections. Like any connection, you need to consider the characteristic that you need in a partnership before you look for one. What strengths do you need to see? Build relationships and make a list of contacts you would be interested in partnering with in the future, and meet with them to assess interest.

Generate Leads

Networking is invaluable when it comes to generating business leads. People are always more comfortable doing business with individuals they know and trust. You can generate leads from networking events as well as from social networking sites. We will go into more detail about the methods later. Networking to generate leads is time consuming, but it is very effective.

When using networking to generate leads, your focus should be on offering value and selling yourself. Meet with different prospects. After meeting individuals who may become leads, follow-up and connect with them. As you build relationships, you will develop new leads.

Position Yourself

Networking can be used to help you position yourself in your industry. People will contact you once you build a reputation as a reliable expert. Your reputation will develop as people in your network share your strengths as well as the strengths of your company. For example, your network may share an expert article that you write. As the article is shared, you will gain exposure, and your reputation will grow.

Why Network

There are various reasons to network. Networking affects your reputation and your social circle. Engaging in networking can result in jobs, partnerships, and support. The benefits include an increase in trust and visibility. Networking can also provide an inside advantage when it comes to your professional and personal life.

Gain Trust

When done correctly, networking helps people gain trust. The more people trust you, the more likely they are to want to do business with you. There are a few steps that anyone can take to gain trust from contacts. These steps are common sense, but their importance cannot be overemphasized.

Gaining Trust:

  • Be honest: Trust is easily gained when people have a reputation for being honest and sincere.
  • Act with consistency: This requires acting with integrity at all times, even when no one is watching.
  • Be helpful: Remember that it is your goal to meet contacts’ needs. Develop a reputation for being helpful.

Be Visible

Networking can help increase your visibility in the market place, where it doesn’t hurt to stand out. Job listings tend to draw piles of applicants, and many of them are qualified. In this competitive atmosphere, it is essential that you stand out from the rest. There are a number of ways to increase visibility. Your circumstances will determine which actions will be effective for you.

Increase Visibility:

  • Volunteer
  • Speak at events
  • Write content
  • Share expertise
  • Ask questions
  • Share news (blog, social media, newsletters, etc.)

Be an Insider

Networking can help make you an insider. People in your network will be able to guide you to new opportunities. Remember that not every job you want will be advertised. The right connections can provide you with insider opportunities. If a connection feels that you would be perfect for a job, he or she will recommend you. You may be offered it before it is ever posted. You should expect to do the same for your contacts should the opportunity present itself.

Gain Advantage

Networking will help you gain an advantage as your visibility increases. You will be able to stay in the forefront of the decision makers’ minds. There are steps to take to ensure that you will have a positive relationship with the decision makers:

  • Dress appropriately
  • Watch your tone and body language
  • Be helpful
  • Be engaged (at work and in the community)

Degrees of Delegation

Many supervisors feel that by giving tasks to others, they’re giving their power away. This simply isn’t true! Delegation is one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn. By delegating the tasks that you don’t really need to do, you free up time for those high-reward projects.

Even better, delegating doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In this post, we will learn about the degrees of delegation and when to use each of them.

Level One: Complete Supervision

The first level of delegation is complete supervision. This gives the employee the least independence, but it gives you the most control.

Although this level of delegation should not be used often, it can be used in situations such as these:

The task is dangerous and the employee is not familiar with it.

The task has important organizational, financial, or legal implications. For example, if an employee is preparing a year-end report for the first time, you will probably want to supervise the process and carefully examine the results.

Level Two: Partial Supervision

The second level of delegation is a good balance between employee freedom and manager supervision. With this level, the employee does the task on their own, but the supervisor monitors the work, evaluates progress, and keeps a close eye on how things are moving along.

This is the most commonly used level of delegation, and is the one that you will use for most tasks. However, to maximize your delegating potential, try to encourage employees to grow and develop by adding more levels of complexity as they become more comfortable with the task.

For example, let’s say that you have been delegating the weekly team status report to the team’s most senior person. After the report is submitted, you type the report using your organization’s template. Once the delegate has become comfortable with creating the report, the next step could be to use the template themselves, cutting out one step for you, and moving them further along the journey to independence.

Level Three: Complete Independence

The last level of delegation is the one that we should hope to move towards for most tasks. Here, the employee does the task completely on their own.

However, spot-checks and progress updates are important. Continuing with the example of the progress report, let’s say that the final step is to post the report on the departmental Intranet. The delegate may want to CC you when they post the report so that you can read it, and so that you know it has been submitted.

Think very carefully when choosing a level of delegation. Too low, and the employee may feel distrusted and smothered. Too high, and you may find a disaster on your hands.

Assigning Work

Just as important as what tasks you assign to individuals is how you assign them. Allowing employees to have a say in what tasks they perform and how they perform them can increase job satisfaction and performance exponentially. However, there are often situations where tasks need to be assigned quickly, or you may require menial tasks that no one really wants to do, to be completed. This post will give you several ways to assign work and explore which method is appropriate in which situation.

General Principles

When assigning any sort of work, keep the 5 W’s and the H in mind, just as we did when setting expectations. In particular, you will want to explain what the task is, when it is due, and when they should provide progress reports. Although it is often best to give employees as much freedom as possible in executing the task, you will want to explain what the end product should look like, particular steps that will need to be followed (especially when safety or interdependence with other projects is involved), and resources that they can use.

Work assignments often fall into one of three categories:

Orders: These leave no room for guesswork, and they typically match the dictatorial approach discussed below. These should only be used for emergencies. Example: “Shut off that tap, now!”

Requests: These types of assignments leave the employee some room for interpretation. These are the work descriptions you will want to use most often. Example: “John, please turn off that water.”

Suggestions:  These types of work assignments leave the most room for interpretation and should only be used if you don’t care how the work gets done, or if it’s a low priority task. Example: “Susan, it would be nice if we could come up with a different format for that report.”

The Dictatorial Approach

The easiest short-term work assignment method is to simply assign tasks to individuals. However, this generates the least job satisfaction and independence.

This method should be used when a task needs to be completed urgently, or if it is a task that no one wants to take on.

For best results, make sure that you explain the importance of the task and the rewards to the individual, the department, and the organization.

The Apple-Picking Approach

This method gives employees more freedom in choosing their tasks, although it does not emphasize team problem solving or collaboration. The basic idea is that the team member chooses a project that they would like to work on from a list of departmental tasks.

This is a good method to use when there is a small group of tasks to be assigned, a very small group of employees, and not enough time for a meeting. In this case, make sure that the tasks are equal in value and workload. This method can also be used when the department has a list of low-priority “fillers” and an employee needs a short term project.

Be careful when using this method if there are just as many tasks as people, as employees’ choices will be reduced as you move through the team members.

The Collaborative Approach

With this method, the team has a meeting to decide who completes which task. The list of tasks is posted on flip chart or whiteboard. For maximum effectiveness, all team members help establish objectives and deadlines for each tasks.

This is the most effective method because giving team members a say in the way the work is distributed, and giving them the opportunity to choose more meaningful tasks, will enable you to get more out of your employees and to help them grow and develop.

However, this method is not appropriate for a list of menial tasks, or if a task needs to be urgently completed. It is most effective when used with a mature team (a team that has worked together for six months or more).

Developing the Succession Plan

Once you have a grasp of your business and know the direction you want to take, it is time to develop a succession plan. To do this determine your priorities, use the priorities to set goals and objectives, and develop a strategy to achieve these goals. When this process is complete begin drafting the succession plan that fits your needs.

Prioritize What the Succession Plan Will Address

The priorities of each company will be unique. Do you need to focus on training people for executive management positions? What are the strengths you wish to achieve? Use the SWOT analysis to help guide you.

Clearly defining the company’s priorities will decide what type of knowledge transfer will be covered in the succession plan.

Set Goals and Objectives

Success for any plan requires specific goals and objectives. Goals and objectives give motivation and a sense of direction. The goals and objectives of any business strategy need to be SMART:

  • Specific: Goals should have specific instructions.
  • Measurable: It should be clear when goals and objectives are met.
  • Attainable: Impossible goals are not motivating. Make sure that goals are reasonable and attainable.
  • Relevant: Goals need to be relevant to employees and their functions.
  • Timely: Goals need specific timeframes.

Develop a Strategy for Achieving Goals

SMART goals cannot be achieved without taking strategic action. The goals need to be divided into individual actions. After setting goals, it is important to write down a list of steps to achieve the goals. Brainstorm a few different ideas then critique them for their effectiveness. Be sure to seek out feedback from those involved.

Draft the Plan

Once everything from the SWOT analysis, goals, and strategies is considered, the information is used to draft the plan. The plan determines specific steps taken on a routine basis to achieve business goals and also the timeline for reaching those goals. Plans must be reevaluated from time to time to measure their effectiveness. It is important to be flexible and monitor the plan carefully.

Succession Vs. Replacement Planning

Succession planning and replacement planning are two different things. Replacement planning is focused on identifying immediate understudies, while succession planning is focused on developing talent to move forward.

What is Business Succession Planning?

Successful succession planning is related to leadership development. It develops a pool of talent so that there are numerous qualified candidates throughout the organization to fill vacancies in leadership. Succession planning used to concentrate on developing leadership at the top level, but now it is building a strong talent base, which helps to increase employee loyalty and ensure the longevity of the company. This strategy requires recruiting qualified talent, creating a talent pool, and instilling loyalty.

Benefits of succession planning:

  • Decreased turnover
  • Increased employee satisfaction
  • Improved commitment to company goals
  • Enhanced image of the organization

What does succession planning require?

  • Identify the long-term goals and objectives of the business: The long-term goals directly relate to succession planning. Is the company’s goal to grow or maintain its current position? Will it expand into other fields? All of these questions need to be addressed before creating a succession plan.
  • Understand the developmental needs of the company and identify employees who fit these needs: The responsibilities of employees change over time. Some positions may be eliminated in the future while others will be added.
  • Recognize trends in the workforce and engage employees to build loyalty: Understanding workforce trends will help you predict the needs of your organization. For example, are your key employees nearing retirement? Have you invested in talented employees to take on additional roles?

What Is Replacement Planning?

Replacement planning works under the assumption that the structure of the organization will not change. This is easier to apply in small family businesses that do not have any goals to expand or grow in the future. There are typically two or three “replacements” identified in the organization chart. Each backup is listed with his or her ability to replace an existing leader. The employees are not necessarily developed to understand the new working environment or smoothly transition into his or her new responsibilities.

Differences Between

Many executives believe that they are engaging in succession planning, but in reality they are still using replacement planning.

The Main Differences:

  • Replacement planning focuses on finding suitable replacements only for top executives.
  • Succession planning means that the company is easily able to fill vacancies throughout the business because employees are being empowered and developed.
  • There is a short list of candidates in replacement planning.
  • Succession planning builds a large talent pool.

Succession planning takes a little more time and effort from those in leadership, but it yields a high return on such an investment.

This post is from December’s topic on Business Succession Planning, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program online from Harvard Square.