June 15, 2021
Succession Planning 01 July 2019
Succession Planning: Getting Input from Employees
Britta Howlett

The best succession plans have a heavy emphasis on the development of employees to find new leaders. These new leaders need to feel challenged and valued. They also most certainly need to know that they are part of a plan. 

A big part of pathways is getting together with employees to figure out what skills they want and then finding a position that fits them. Not everyone will be the next in line for CFO so prior to making the decision of what position will be good for them and your company you should have asked the employee:

  • What are your career goals?

  • What do you want to achieve?

From here, you can decide whether or not your succession plan matches the employee's goals. If it doesn’t then that’s ok, you shouldn't try to convince employees to take positions if they don't want them. If the employees are not motivated and have a desire to take on the position, then it is most likely that they won't stay there for very long. It’s important to get input from your employees so you know what pathways will work for them and what they need to do in order to progress. Pathways are not a done deal. They always need some tweaking therefore, an ongoing and developmental succession plan is critical to everyone's success. 

Develop Talent and Skills Through Pathways

Training and developing new skills and talents within employees is an important process for every successful organization! Helping your workforce improve their ability to perform will only result in good things for everyone involved. Clear communication with employees is important so that both sides are clear about what needs to be done in order to progress. Benjamin K. Walker, Founder & CEO of Transcription Outsourcing says:

We do our succession planning through direct and in-person communication with our people. We also have it written down somewhere, it doesn't really do the same thing though compared to our in-person conversations. People can misinterpret things we have typed up in our company handbook and succession plans. Talking with them and hashing it all out works so much better. That way everyone involved can ask questions and get clarification on anything they may not fully understand.

It’s important for your succession plan to include pathways. These pathways help keep employees on track and they also show employees that you care about their career goals and want to help them progress within your company. This will boost their motivation and increase retention. 

This would typically involve having an ongoing talk with employees about their career aspirations. Every company is different so decide beforehand when you are going to meet with your employees. Will it be every week, once a month, or quarterly? Once you determine the frequency of these career meetings, continue to follow up regularly.

Each employee is unique and has something to offer so while in the meeting figure out their strengths and their weaknesses. Every employee needs to be challenged and see opportunities for growth. Find out what skills they already have and which ones they should/want to develop while working in your company.

Input from Employees Can Help with Pathways and Succession Planning.

When companies need to hire for management or leadership positions, often the best place to start looking is often within the organization. Cara Wade, Senior VP and executive consultant of Leadership Worth Following, has the following advice when it comes to leadership succession planning:

Looking at the whole organization, think about what skills/competencies will be needed across all team members to both complement and sharpen each other - now and into the future. Identify multiple good (leader) options and keep your possibilities open by not narrowing selections too soon. For internal candidates, review recent job performance and recommendations from leadership. Evaluate possible internal successors ready now or those who could be ready after professional development. 

Some employees will not become senior leaders but regardless, It’s important to meet with all your employees and find what goals they desire. Only then will you be able to find a good pathway for your employees to grow. Without their input, it will be difficult to find out what the right path is. 

Often times, employee feedback is centered around performance. Managers will deliver constructive feedback that is related to performance and productivity. However, in the reviews you have with your employees about their pathways, the feedback has to be two-way. Employees should be encouraged to speak up about their experiences whether good and bad. They should also not be afraid about what they want to achieve within the company. Their input is the only way leaders will know if the pathways and succession planning is working. 

Sometimes pathways have to change. Employees might be working hard to achieve the goals that they made but realize that maybe the new position wasn't a great fit for them and that a different position might be better. If you don't meet with your employees and get their input you will not know how everything is going.

How to Get Input That Matters from Employees

Now that we know that employee input is crucial when creating pathways for our employees, how do we get our employees to give us input? 

  • Get to know them

It sounds simple because it is! Spending time with your employees and getting to know them is an easy way to getting input. Learn about their family, personal goals and background. Find time throughout the day to say hello and ask them about their families or their hobbies.This is a great practice to help the employees feel comfortable around and it lets them know that you care. Employees who feel valued will be more engaged in their work and will feel more comfortable sharing input.

  • Value their goals

You sat down with your employees in a meeting and discussed their goals and abilities to help your company grow. Structure your succession plan in such a way that their promotions and advancement align with those goals.

As a manager, you need to give them the opportunity to show off their skills and abilities for the tasks that you created. Give them room to accomplish the goals. If the goals don’t work out, then that ok. Re-evaluate with them and help them make new goals. 

  • Let them know how the company is doing.

Your employees are the backbone of your company so its important that your employees have a vested interest in how well the business does. In order for them to have an interest, they need to know who the company is doing. They should be made aware of its successes, concerns, and also struggles. Allowing your employees to know what is working and what doesn't grant them the opportunity to develop new ideas to help the company grow. 

  • Provide tools

You need to help your employees understand what they are involved in and remind them what goals they have. ProSky is a great tool to have to show your employees what pathway they are on, what projects they have completed and what other milestones they may need to finish. 

  • Recognize your employees and their hard work.

Recognizing and acknowledging a job well done is a great motivator for anyone. Showing your employees that you are proud of the work they have done shows that you value their work and helps your employees feel wanted and important. This will lead your employees to feel like they can give you their input because they know you will value it.  

  • Listen to your employees.

Having regular meetings to go over your employee's goals and pathways are important in keeping the employees engaged with the company. If employees know what management cares and hear their concerns, they will most likely want to give you feedback and their input because they know you won't disregard their remarks.

Real-life experience:

One company that we worked with had a focus on making training courses and they hired a candidate to be the director of curriculum development. The person was put on a pathway learning to use video editing software to create animated videos and publish completed courses.

As the employee came close to finishing the pathway and completing the curriculums, management realized there would eventually no longer be a need for the curriculum director position. We sat down with the employee to see what other roles he could transition into and he expressed interest in continuing to do work related to tech and software.It just so happened that the company was looking to expand their content marketing reach with search engine optimization. The employee didn’t have a lot of experience with SEO but was interested in learning, so we put him onto a pathway with SEO software training and projects to familiarize and adjust to content marketing. Eventually, he took over the role of content manager when the old one left to have a baby.

Instead of having no future with the company when the curriculum was finished, we were able to use his input and pathways to develop him into not only what the company needed, but also a position based on his interests as well. This is just one example of how using employee feedback can help place them into a good role that benefits both employee and company.


Employees will feel more engaged when they believe that their employer is concerned about their growth and provides ways to reach individual career goals while fulfilling the company's mission. A career pathway provides employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge that can lead to mastery of their current jobs, promotions, and transfers to new or different positions. 

In reality, your employee's growth is crucial for your company’s success. In order for employees to succeed, they need to start giving input. For more tips and advice, subscribe to our blog! If your company isn’t already using pathways, we recommend that you start today. Meet with our specialist and get a demo of ProSky today!