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How Does Succession Planning Apply to Parental Leave?

By Janice Chaka
Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Succession planning is typically thought of as a leadership replacement, which is why it works perfectly for parental leave planning.

If you are a leader of a business, your availability and vision is what really matters for the success of the organization. Since you are the head of that company, you want to ensure that it moves on as it is supposed to. Nonetheless, some natural events and situations can force you to be out of the building. In a very happy instance, the maternity or paternity period.

During this time, nature will force you to stay at home and tend to the soon-to-be-born or the newborn baby. Well, most people that can't build a nursery at their office. 

Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout. — Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, is only taking only limited time off, but you don't have to do that. This is when succession comes in. What is succession and how can you plan to use it in relation to parental leave?

First things first, here is a quick look at the maternity and paternity laws in the US and the rest of the world.

Related Article: Down With TV Dinners: The Balancing Act of Working Parents

Maternity and Paternity Leave Laws in the USA

The US is among the few countries that do not offer paid maternity or paternity leave, and only a handful of big companies offer paid maternity leave. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only 11 percent of Americans enjoy their paid maternity or paternity leave

The US government does offer something in the maternity leave package, but it pales in comparison to other countries. Mothers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave with job security. However, this also comes with limitations.

There are some specific requirements that are needed in order to qualify for the unpaid maternity leave, and 40 percent of women do not qualify for it.

Maternity and Paternity Leave Laws in Other Countries

Outside of the US, there are six other countries that do not offer the paid maternity leave. They include Tonga, Marshal Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Micronesia and Suriname. Conversely, there are a few countries that offer at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave.

France, for instance, offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, along with a monthly family allowance. The family allowance is meant to cater for the child's expenses until they are 20 years old. Finland offers up to 26 weeks of 70% paid maternity leave, along with an amazing package for the mother.

The government also offers a maternity care package with all the necessary items for caring for the child. In addition, it offers public daycare until the child is seven. Sweden offers 80 weeks of paid parental leave, and up to 80% pay for 65 of those weeks for every parent.

As you can see, the US is behind on helping parents achieve work-life balance, and that does not help the natural pressure of feeling like work can’t survive without you. 

What Is Succession Planning?

If you are in the US, you definitely need to understand succession planning and how to go about it for the sake of your business and your staff. Most developing CEOs tend to confuse succession planning with replacement, but it functions quite well in the paternal leave instance. What needs to be understood is that succession planning will help as far as your job tasks are concerned, but will never replace your leadership and drive. 

Succession planning is the basically the process of spotting internal people in the organization and developing them into senior managers or future leaders. The main aim of succession planning is to develop a strong bench in the organization and making them ready in case of vacancies or unexpected leave. Conversely, replacement is all about picking out specific backups to take up the position that is vacant. 

Is Succession Planning Worth It?

Technically, this is supposedly the most important thing you need as a CEO of a small business. It helps in many ways. Succession planning helps you prepare for the future, and every CEO knows they must have plans for the future. They must expect to grow in different areas of their life, including their family lives. For that, succession planning will help you not to worry about leaving a vacant position in the organization.

It also helps to develop future leaders and you can expand your business further with the use of the internally-developed leaders. This is a way of saving on the costs of hiring external already-established leaders or senior executives, which can be a real drain and take up a lot of time.

Related Article: Guiding Lights: How to Create a Mentor Program for Your Organization

How to Succession Plan

There are various tips that can help you succession plan for your developing business and be sure that your business is a success in the future.

Here are some tips to help you

  • Focus on the target audience/client/customer. The first thing you want to do is to understand your target audience. Ensure that you develop your future with the customer in mind. It is not all about what you want the leaders to be, rather it is about the clients’ expectations.
  • Develop a culture that surpasses your leadership. You should develop a team that is focused at the target or objective of the company. The team should have the right skills, knowledge and ideas that will help the business move. You should develop leaders that can drive the business perfectly, even in your absence.
  • Be consistent. Ensure that you remain the same from the conception of the business to when you are absent. You should control the consistency and ensure that very little changes. 
  • Introduce change gradually. When you are sure that you will soon be unavailable, you will want to hand over the leadership proactively. This will help the developed leaders to catch up faster when you are unavailable.
  • Consider the people that follow up your duties. You should not select the people that will take over your leadership with regard to personality. Relate the future leaders with your vision and determine their abilities when you select them.

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