Before you promote or otherwise move employees to new posts within your company, ask them to name three interested and qualified successors (inside or outside the company) who could most effortlessly fill their current postion. That's what seasoned human resources director Gary Brown of ever-expanding Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. asks employees to do, and the strategy pays dividends, he says, because it forces employees to get inside the minds of their supervisors. It also teaches everyone a thing or two about contingency planning, which is one secret to SRC's rapid growth.

Think about it, Brown tells employees. When a supervisor sees no obvious or available substitutes for a given job, he or she may be skittish about moving people at all - whether vertically or horizontally. To combat the hesitance, Brown advises managers to collect names of personal successors from employees and sketch an overall employee succession plan, which can help you figure out your annual hiring plan.

Copyright 1999 Open-Book Management Inc.