Replacement Planning to Deal with Disruption

With the current disruptive environment in which we find ourselves, companies have had to identify ways to support their teams by reacting and implementing solutions as quickly as possible. Now, the question is, what are companies doing to put fail-safes in place if future disruptions occur?

Succession Planning vs. Replacement Planning

It’s common for organizations to discuss and implement succession plans for the long-term goals of the business. Organizational positions are mapped out, and backfills, along with their career development plans, are identified.

However, succession plans don’t do much for an organization that finds itself dealing with a crisis or emergency where immediate action needs to be taken. In such instances, replacement planning is required. Replacement planning is for continuity of operations, so teams can still function with minimal amounts of disruption during emergencies.

Considerations and Steps for an Effective Replacement Plan

A well-thought-out replacement plan supports business leaders and employees through difficult and disruptive times. Below are some steps to consider for creating a fool-proof replacement plan.

  1. Identify critical key positions that must have a replacement for continuity of operations if something were to happen tomorrow. These would be the positions that would cause significant challenges if they didn’t have a near-immediate backfill.
  2. Identify the critical skills required for the vital positions identified.
  3. Match current employees’ skillsets to those required for the key positions.
  4. Consider short-term backfills in cases of emergencies. Short-term backfills might not be a long-term solution. For example, a more inexperienced hire that has been tagged in the organization’s succession plan to move into a position in five to ten years might still be the right short-term fit today.
  5. Identify who entire departments can temporarily report to if the department’s manager is suddenly indisposed.
  6. Identify team leads who can effectively lead or supervise a team as a stop-gap for emergencies.
  7. Use both a top-down and bottom-up approach. It’s essential to understand employees’ goals as far as career development is concerned. If an employee doesn’t desire to be in a supervisory type of position, they are likely not a good fit, even for the short-term, to move into a key position in a replacement plan.
  8. Remain current with emerging technologies to assist employees and management in case of disruption, including training tools to bring key replacements up-to-speed as quickly as possible.
  9. Create an emergency replacement committee that is ready to commence when needed to carry out the replacement plan.
  10. Communicate the replacement plan with all parties that are involved and identified as “key replacements.”
  11. Review the plan periodically to make any necessary changes, and update the plan anytime someone identified as a replacement leaves the organization.

A replacement plan is a valuable resource for businesses to have. It provides some direction on how to keep the business going without having to make the tough decisions at the very moment the crisis is occurring. As a result, it can also help to alleviate some of the stress that comes with disruptive situations.



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    Ronda Suder
    Ronda Suder is a Writer, HR Professional, and Wellness Advocate. With more than 20 years of experience in HR and written communications, she supports individuals and businesses in expressing their stories through words and works with individuals to meet their career and life goals through consulting services. Ronda holds an MS in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, an MA in Film and Media Production, and is completing her coursework for an MEd in Counseling through Lamar University.

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