7 Steps for Successful Succession Planning

September 06, 2018

Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) was originally known as the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).  It was founded in 1987 by a group of dedicated child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agency leaders that banded together to create a national membership agency to help them advance their collective mission. Child care across the nation has come a long way in the past thirty years thanks to the dedicated leaders that began the CCR&R field.

An important role of any leader is growing and nurturing the development of up-and-coming leaders within the field. This is especially important today, when many of the original leaders of CCR&R are looking at a well-deserved retirement. With this in mind, many of our members have turned to CCAoA to ask for assistance and advice with succession planning. 

Succession planning is defined by The Economic Times as a process by which individuals are scanned to pass on the leadership role within a company. The process ensures that business continues to operate efficiently without the presence of people who were holding key positions as they must have retired, resigned, etc. According to Robert Half there are seven steps to successful succession planning. How can these steps be related to the work that CCR&R agencies do?

  1. Be proactive with succession planning.

It doesn’t matter if you have been the leader of your CCR&R agency for one year or 35 years.  If you have not already started thinking about the future leadership of your agency it is time to begin the process now. 

  1. Keep an open mind.

When you are thinking about growing the leaders within your CCR&R agencies don’t just look at your middle management or second in command.  Look at your whole team.  Who has the ability to grow their skillsets and become a leader within the agency?  For a successful CCR&R agency to thrive you need strong leaders throughout your agency.  That staff member that you just hired might grow and develop into the next CEO of the agency.

  1. Make the vision known.

When you make important decisions about the future programing or important grants to grow the services that your CCR&R offers do you make them in your office by yourself or only with your top leadership?  If so, consider opening up these important strategic conversations with potential managers and others that have shown leadership skills in your agency.  This not only creates important buy-in from your staff but also helps them develop important strategic planning skills to continue your agency’s mission and vision in the years to come.   

  1. Offer regular feedback to protégés.

CCR&R agencies spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring early childhood educators.  Put those great skills to use with your own staff.  When you offer regular, consistent feedback that is aimed at helping your staff member not only grow their technical skills but also aimed at helping them grow their leadership skills you will see your agencies future leadership team develop.  

  1. Provide training to peak performers.

Managers often offer training to staff members when they are struggling with a particular component of their job; however, top performers need professional development offerings as well.  CCR&R agencies often talk about tailoring their professional development opportunities to meet the needs of the new ECE educator as well as the needs of the seasoned ECE educator.  Do you do that for your staff? Do you have individual professional development plans for every staff member? Consider offering business and leadership training to your top performers to help round out their skills.  Bring up-and-coming leaders to CCAoA’s Leadership Institute.  Send them to other local, state and national conferences.  Help them tap into scholarships for them to go back to college. This will help prepare these promising staff for the possibility of replacing you when you retire.

  1. Do a trial run.

CCR&R leaders are dedicated, passionate individuals that typically have a hard time “unplugging” from their work. The idea of a true vacation where they don’t check emails or take a conference call is pretty foreign to many.  Have you considered that might not be the best thing for your agency’s long-term health, not to mention your personal health? A true leader needs to prepare their agency for their eventual departure. Truly taking time away from the office and allowing your staff to lead and make decisions while you are gone allows for them to practice running the show.  Chances are they will do great even if they do things a little different from how you would have.

  1. Use your plan to develop a hiring strategy.

Survey the strengths of your employees.  There are a lot of tools that can help you with this.  What talent gaps do you have?  If you were to leave tomorrow what talent gaps would that create?  Make a wish list of skills or talents that you need to round out your team.  Look for these skills in candidates as opportunities present themselves to hire new staff.

Growing the future leaders that will run CCR&R agencies for the next thirty years and beyond is critically important to our collective mission of advancing the affordability, accessibility, development and learning of children in child care.  It is something that we all have a responsibility to do. CCAoA staff take this responsibility seriously! With this goal in mind, we have designed our 2018 Leadership Institute – Leading Boldly, Accelerating Change sessions to do just that.   We encourage season leaders to bring their up-and-coming leaders to the Institute.  It is being held in Denver, Colorado from October 1st – 3rd.  Seats are limited—secure your spot today! 


2018 Leadership Institute: Leading Boldly. Accelerating Change.

Topics: Workforce

Mindy Bennett

Written by Mindy Bennett

Mindy Bennett brings over 25 years of experience in the early childhood sector including teaching for children birth – kindergarten, owning a family child care home, child care center administration, as well as directing Indiana’s largest local CCR&R agency and later the work of Indiana’s state CCR&R network. In July of 2017 Mindy joined the staff at Child Care Aware® of America and is currently the Interim Deputy Chief of Partnership where she oversees supports for our members and works with strategic partnerships.