All teams have those really vital roles, where without people knowing what they are doing, the going would get very tough indeed. Those critical positions in the team that simply have to be right or things would become very difficult.
Because initially it isn't practical to use succession planning for absolutely everyone in your business, these roles are the ones where a good manager initially focuses on, just to ensure continuity if the worst comes to the worst.
So it's important to focus, at least to start with, on those roles where you would struggle when someone left or was unable to work for a while. The cataclysmic positions without which would be a serious threat to ongoing continuity.
Such roles are mostly pretty obvious, yet there will be some that even the most aware manager might not appreciate, so it's worth considering how to analyze the whole team to see just who would be missed if they didn't show up one day!
To help identify the 'Key Roles', they are filled by employees who would:-
• Have very specific skills
• Have a particular level of experience
• Be carrying out a role alone
• Lead a team
• Be critical in some other way to the business
Some examples of these would be those with:-
• Management or Supervisory skills
• Technical skills
• Accounting skills
• Sales skills
• Particular responsibilities
• Extreme duties (e.g. key holders, very early or late hours)
There are, no doubt, many more - especially in your own unique situation - and it will be worth taking some time to ask the following question:-
"What would we do if he/she left tomorrow?"
...for every single employee in your team (and even, where your team intersects with others, perhaps those in other teams too).
This is can be a challenging exercise the first time through - and with a little practice, it does get easier as awareness builds and your support managers - where you have them - become more aware of the consequences of someone important going missing unexpectedly.
Far better for it to be a demanding challenge today when you are ahead of the game and able to prepare for the worst, than tomorrow or next month when one of your key people isn't around anymore and you have no plan at all!
Great managers are able to size up where they are in solving the problem of losing those in key roles and manage it effectively, providing opportunities to learn and develop for those who might be able to stand up to short-term chances, to show what they can do when emergencies happen.