How and Why to Establish a Succession Plan – Architecture & Design

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When thinking about the
future of your organization, succession planning is a big part of ensuring the long-term success of any firm.  Lack of an established succession plan can result in reactive, rather than strategic hiring, and the scrambling to get new talent to replace those who have left.
However, this does not have to be the case. Proper succession planning saves an organization time, resources, and stress when people leave and is an integral part of retention, while ensuring the continued development of the

Recruitment and Retention Matter

The first step to proper succession planning is ensuring you have the right people in your organization to include in that plan. This means putting effort into recruitment and retention. Focusing on factors like your company culture and compensation can help improve retention rates by ensuring employees are happy where they are. Take a hard look at what you are offering your employees and ensure that you are offering what is important to them. This is where having a company culture of openness and transparency is helpful, as it encourages people to tell you what they are looking for. This can be done by promoting an open-door policy or getting feedback through more formal channels such as surveys, employee reviews and appraisals. Not all employee concerns can be totally fixed but listening to the feedback you get and implementing changes where possible goes a long way to ensuring employee satisfaction.


The Architecture and Design industry has traditionally set out strong retention plans for growth of their employees within their firms.  The succession plan of your employees is important and does not have to be the traditional model of Architect to Associate to Partner.  Succession planning can include management opportunities, project and portfolio expansion and other personal aspects that will develop and enhance their personal career development.  In addition, Senior Partners and Associates in the company need to know that as their careers develop further, those positions will eventually become vacant and, in this case, mentorship is key in developing junior employees to take over those positions as they become available. 

A succession plan will mean that your organization will know what to do when people leave. It will save you from having to rush and hire a replacement, as well as the time and money associated with training a new employee.  This is a quintessential piece of running a successful business, retaining strong employees, and recruiting others.

Offer the Right Promotions and Growth for Employees

In a firm, providing employees with the opportunity, hours, and growth to move up into senior architect and associate positions will establish employees that are ready to be promoted when the time comes. Succession planning improves your retention by offering employees the promotional and growth opportunities that they likely want and is beneficial to putting in place a seamless plan. This is something that many employees look for when they are choosing an employer and will help differentiate your company from competitors. As a result, hiring the right quantity and quality of candidates is important to having the necessary talent for your organizations continued success.

Create a Leadership Environment 

Celebrating leadership, mentorship and development is essential in creating an environment that encourages employees to develop and grow further.  Setting a platform for leadership development amongst all employees helps develop a seamless succession plan by allowing individuals to build teams and lead projects by developing their talents.  Leadership is not for everyone and that also needs to be identified.  There are many times that a more senior individual is happy to maintain their career on a technical standard rather than lead a team. Giving them opportunity to continue their career growth and talents in a technical environment requires acknowledgement as well as different type of leadership plan. This reinforces the value of an open-door policy, as establishing a culture where people are willing to tell you what they are looking for long term will help you establish a succession plan that is beneficial for you and your employees.

Having opportunity to develop, grow and lead in whatever capacity that may be are the most important elements in creating strong company culture and retaining and attracting top talent in your firms.

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