How to be successful by using backward planning

Research consistently shows that a well-conceived plan can improve your odds for achieving your goals. So why don’t more people do it in their personal lives? There are three common pitfalls:

  • We don’t know what we don’t know – our goals are too vague
  • We get caught up in the day-to-day details and don’t invest the reflective time to make a plan
  • Without support, we lack confidence in our aspirations

Planning and timelines are essential in the workplace. Whether for students or adults, the question is “How can I improve my efforts for my personal goals and aspirations – particularly when they are education or career-related?” The answer is: Backwards Planning, beginning with the end in mind.

  1. Define Your Goal.
    1. What do you want to accomplish?
    2. Define your goal as specifically as possible. Ask yourself why it is important and is it realistic.
  2. Identify the steps and sequence needed to achieve your goals.
    1. Write out a random list of all the steps and resources that you need to accomplish your goal.
    2. Estimate the time and resources (money and people) you need to complete each step on the list.
    3. Group the random steps into clusters and sequence them. You might find it fun to use self-stick notes on a tabletop or wall for this activity, writing one step on each note. Then you can easily move them into clusters. Finally, think about creating a starting outline to begin the sequencing.
  3. Create a deadline-driven timeline by committing your plan to paper and calendar by assigning specific due dates to each major goal and supporting steps. It is much easier to create your calendar by working backwards – keeping the end in mind.
    1. Identify the date by which your goal should be completed.
    2. Identify the last step you must do before the goal’s due date.
    3. Identify the next to the last step; the third to the last, and continue until you finish putting all the steps in reverse order. You may need to move things around a bit until you finalize the plan.
  4. Seek support.
    1. Get some feedback or input from someone to make sure you aren’t overlooking something critical.
    2. Check to see if identified resources are available.
    3. Backwards planning can give you confidence as you move forward toward achieving your goal.
An Example of Backwards Planning for College-Bound Students

For high school students, the end is not what college to attend – but identifying a career direction (or a few careers) that align best with their unique abilities and interests. Once the possible careers are identified, the students can see which academic majors will prepare them best for those paths. They can use these majors as important criteria for evaluating potential college matches for themselves. With this knowledge, they can also select courses at the high school level that are in line with their career direction, such as a computer drafting course for a future engineer or a child development course for a future teacher. They can even gain experience working a summer or part-time job related to their future career field. Students who know their career direction (or a few they are considering) make more informed decisions while still in high school and can explore career interest areas in a more focused way.

Backwards Planning for Adult Career Changers

For adults, this technique can help identify their job or career goal and organize the necessary steps, working backward, to accomplish it. For instance, before getting hired for the desired position, they might have to, in reverse order, 7) complete an internship, 6) take the required courses at a university or community college, 5) get accepted into the program, 4) apply to schools, 3) research schools that have the academic program desired, 2) job shadow a few individuals working in the desired job, and 1) conduct informational interviews with people working in the desired job or career field.

Many individuals benefit from the guidance of a professional career consultant to help put these kinds of plans together, and their encouragement when obstacles are encountered along the way.

In all cases, research shows that great career decisions and solid plans come to fruition faster with the same first step: a comprehensive career assessment that includes aptitudes and interests, with career recommendations that are a best fit.

How to be successful by using backward planning

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During my thirteen years in the US Army Special Forces, I actually learned backward planning before I attended the Special Forces Qualification “Q” Course. My first education in planning came from the US Army Ranger School, which is primarily a leadership course that uses patrolling in harsh conditions to duplicate the stresses of combat. It’s a very demanding course with a planned lack of food and sleep. While some might say that for a lot people, Ranger School was spent in a daze of confusion, hunger and fatigue, backward planning does not mean that you have to plan in confused or awkward manner.

One of the biggest factors that determine whether you get your task completed is effective time management. Without good time management, you will almost always fail. This was beaten into our heads by the Ranger School Ranger Instructors (RI)s: The RI would continually ask us what time was our time to be on target.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Time on Target

Time on target was the time that we had to accomplish a mission—everything else led up to that time. We simply then mentally walked our way backwards, putting time points at each important step. For example, if time on target was at 11pm, than we needed to do a final reconnaissance of the target an hour beforehand. Given backward planning, our time there would be at 10pm. Before that, we had to set up a small patrol base in the area about 15 minutes before. This would be at 9:45pm. It would take us about three hours to get there from where we were at. This meant that we would need to leave at 6:45pm. An hour to get our equipment ready, fifteen minutes to eat, and three hours planning would then mean that we would need to start to get ready at 2:45pm.

Backward Planning

Backward planning lets you know when you need to get started, and also gives you timing points along the way to let you know if you need to adjust your plan in order to get ‘er done when you need to. For example, if we ran late on the planning for the mission above, we might skip eating or cut down on equipment prep time.

Think about how you could apply backward planning in your daily life:

  • The kids need to be picked up from school at 3:00 pm.
  • You need to pick up the dry cleaning, which is fifteen minutes from the school.
  • You’ll need five minutes in the store, so you need to arrive there at 2:40 pm.
  • Before, that you’ll meet a friend at a local coffee shop, and take a half an hour for coffee.
  • The shop is ten minutes away from the dry cleaners, so you need to arrive at the coffee shop at 2 pm.
  • Finally, the coffee shop is twenty minutes from your house, so you need to leave home at 1:40 pm in order to pick up your kids on time.

Your Own Time on Target

Backward planning will help you with anything that has a deadline or a “time on target.” In the Special Forces, we were known for our focus on being on time, which kept us on track and on schedule. In combat, arriving too early might leave you exposed without air cover. Arriving too late at an ambush might mean that you missed your target. Either way was failure.

It might be a good idea to think about this, and why this time management is so essential to success. Perhaps you can begin by thinking of the opposite—ways which do not work. Even if you have one very small task to complete, if you do not manage your time appropriately it may get done too late, or not at all. You may be working on a deadline, or have a task which does not have a specific time to be completed. If you do not have a plan for getting it done on time, results will show.

Game Plan for Success

If you have ever felt that there are not enough hours in a day to do everything you need to do, this will be a very positive step for you, and you will be pleasantly surprised with how much you can accomplish. With a game plan focused on mission completeness, you may find yourself getting more done each day than you usually accomplish in a week. Not only will you be more productive, but achieving each goal will come much easier, and you will soon appreciate this all-important factor in your success.

Featured photo credit: Traditional maldivian Dhoni via Shutterstock

How to be successful by using backward planning

There are many steps to a successful event. It is necessary to find a place that fits the general atmosphere, invite participants or hire service providers who will ensure external services such as a caterer or a facilitator. But that’s for the practical part. Before even getting to that point, you have to think about the preparation of your event: define your objectives, plan your communication… To be sure to manage your schedule properly, you have to follow a calendar to the letter and therefore do a backward planning.

But what is it really? How to create it easily without forgetting the essential elements? Eventdrive gives you tips on how to create an efficient reverse planning.

How to be successful by using backward planning

WHAT’S A BACKWARD PLANNING?

Backward planning is not a classic schedule. Usually, you start from the start date and schedule to the end date. With backward scheduling, you do the opposite! You start with the end date of the project. This method of reverse scheduling is the most efficient in event planning, because you start from the date of the event, a date that is supposed to be set in stone and that cannot be changed no matter what happens.

There are several advantages to choosing a backward planning:

Greater respect for the deadline

Of course, if we start from the end date, we are sure to be able to wedge everything together before then, without any delay in delivery. Conclusion? Less stress and better efficiency.

You know right away when to start

Since you add the steps needed to complete the project from the end, you’ll quickly know when you need to start to get it all done.

You know the resources to be allocated

By working on each step at a time, you will be able to adjust the timeline and see how many people and budget will be needed each time. You will then be able to plan a total budget much better.

A better visualization of deadlines

When creating your backward planning, you will assign a timeframe to each necessary action. Quickly you will see if the deadlines you have set are achievable or if you need to modify the project accordingly. Don’t forget to keep in mind the (SMART) objectives you set in advance when creating your schedule.

THE DIFFERENT FORMATS FOR BACKWARD PLANNING

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what a backward planning is, it’s time to see what format it has. Depending on your preferences or the complexity of the event to be organized, it can take several forms. At Eventdrive, we have tested several solutions, we present you today the 3 most common ones.

The Gantt chart

This is the most common format. Ideal when working with a complex format, the Gantt chart is created with tasks and subtasks.

In the left-hand column, you have the details of the actions to be taken and in the header, there is the time period to follow. Each task is represented by a horizontal bar that is spread out according to the time required. The advantage is that you can easily overlap several tasks and you have a clear visualization of the duration of each task. You can also set milestones if some steps require special validations.

Don’t forget that the Gantt chart is a collaborative tool, you must be able to work simultaneously with other members of your team on its creation and have the possibility to leave notes and comments.

There are many tools available to create an effective event-driven Gantt chart. We particularly like Smartsheet or LucidChart for example. Depending on the tools, you will be able to choose the way you want to visualize your backward planning and choose the structure that best suits you.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Excel Spreadsheet

If you don’t want to work on a Gantt chart, you can use a more classical method and create a table in Excel.

It is up to you to choose which format you prefer depending on your objectives. The advantage is that you can add as many options as you want, such as the budget per task or the human resources required for each action. However, the visual aspect of the table is less clear.

Even if you use a template, the first time you create your table, you will certainly need more time to adapt it to your needs and your business. But the advantage is that you will be able to start from this basis for future projects that you will have.

If you use Google Sheet, be aware that there are many extensions that can be added to make it easier to create your backward planning.

Tools type Asana

Other tools allow you to create a backward planning quickly. Asana, in particular, offers an event organization model that is easy to follow for your own project. You can then invite people from outside your organization, such as suppliers, to collaborate on your planning. As on a Gantt chart, you can set up a timeline and follow the same format with a header that defines the time period.

With Asana, you can also integrate your mailbox into the tool and automatically add notes or tasks to your backward planning. It is also possible to link the tool with Slack for example, a feature that is particularly useful when the event has started and you need to quickly manage the last points of the schedule.

You can also choose to view your schedule in different ways. If you prefer bulleted lists, the column function will be more relevant for you. But you can also choose a horizontal view with different colour codes.

How to be successful by using backward planning

The creation of a backward planning is an essential step in the organization of a project. In fact, it is one of the first, if not the first task to be carried out in order to succeed in a project. With a backward planning, you will have a clear visualization of the next steps, you will know perfectly the human and financial resources to be allocated to each step of the process and will be much more efficient when carrying them out.

How to be successful by using backward planning

We’ve all done it as children when working out a maze. Start from your endpoint and work backwards to the start. This same approach works for mapping out the path to startup success – Start from your endpoint and work backwards to the present.

Identify your goal and then design the steps that will help you arrive efficiently at your objective.

This allows you to create metrics for determining whether you have successfully accomplished your goals.

Peter Drucker wrote,

“Work implies not only that somebody is supposed to do the job, but also accountability, a deadline and, finally, the measurement of results…”

Milestones and metrics are the keys to growing and funding startup business. “Backward Planning” is a useful tool for creating these milestones and metrics.

Identify Desired End State.

The first step is to determine where you are going. If you do not understand your ultimate goal, you will not know when you get there. You do not have to define everything that may happen; however, you must understand significant events that define “success” at various stages of the development of your company. Most entrepreneurs will develop an exit strategy.

    Identify Intermediate Goals.

    There are always subordinate objectives that are essential to the accomplishment of some significant outcome. These are not stopping points, they are way stations toward the ultimate objective. Once these have been established, determine how you can tell if you have accomplished the task. What specific quantifiable elements define the objective? They can be purely objective or subjective in nature. These factors become the benchmarks or metrics you will use to measure progress.
    Link Resources to Objectives.

    Each event requires resources (time, capital or equipment, etc.) to be accomplished. Clearly identify these requirements and link them to the goals.This will allow you to understand overlaps and resolve conflicts. You can’t use the same resources to simultaneously accomplish two different tasks. Either additional resources must be found or the schedule adjusted accordingly.

    Establish Milestones.

    This entails creating a timeline for the accomplishment of intermediate steps. These are essential checkpoints along the way. Typically, many items can be working in parallel (at the same time). This is the most efficient way to program work. However, there are always some items that will substantively stop the entire program if left unfinished. Often, these Critical Path events will set the basis for your milestones. They require specific attention in the planning process because they must be accomplished before you can move forward.

    Execute.

    Without action, the plan is useless. Remember, you must build in flexibility because nothing will unfold the way you want.

Another element that will help plan your strategy – learn from your peers mistakes. This will help you avoid wasting time, effort, and funds as your build your business.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Dave Clark

Dave Clark taught Strategy at West Point and is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Jun 22, 2015 · 5 min read

Every year for the last six years, I’ve worked with over 50 teachers to help them become outstanding planners and teachers. This is what I’ve learned:

  • Lesson planning is the development of a set of habits of thought, not the filling in of a lesson plan template.
  • Some habits have more impact than others.
  • Anyone can learn to be a highly effective lesson planner. You just have to identify, practise and improve those habits which make the most difference in your context.

So the big question is: which ‘habits of thought’ have the greatest impact?

Cue the 7 habits of highly effective lesson plan(ner)s:

This may sound obvious, but it’s not how all teachers start. In fact, it’s very easy to fall into one of the twin-sins of planning:

  • Activity-oriented planning starts by identifying an activity and reverse engineering the learning intentions. Over time, this can develop into an exercise in keeping students busy.
  • Coverage-oriented planning starts with intentions that have been crafted by someone else (e.g. a colleague or textbook). Over time, this can develop into an exercise in getting through the curriculum.

The alternative is backward s planning: taking time to get excessive clarity about what you want your students to have learned by the time they walk out the door at the end of the lesson. This involves mapping out, breaking down and thinking hard about how the various components of the learning trajectory hang together.

The clearer you are about where you want them to get, the better you’ll be able to help them get there.

“I have 4 [lessons to plan], and zero patience for the sort of purposeless googling that my planning used to involve.” — Michael Pershan

Don’t waste time designing overly complex learning experiences. Instead, keep it simple, stupid. Select the activity which gets your students to the end point as directly as possible. What Doug Lemov calls ‘the shortest path’. Get into the habit of asking yourself: what is the least my students (or I) need to do to help them learn X?

While you’re at it, get into the habit of asking yourself: what is the least I need to say to explain this concept to my students? What is the least amount of information I need to give them before they can get started?

There is always less to be done.

If you want to improve your lesson planning, you’ll need a strong sense of what’s working and what’s not in your classroom. This is almost impossible to do without reliable and efficient methods of assessing pupil progress. Classic assessment techniques which don’t quite cut the mustard include:

  • Traffic lighting (or variants like thumbs up/down etc.) This approach is riddled with problems and offers a level of reliability that you’d be best to ignore.
  • Individual questioning Whilst this approach can offer deep insights into pupil understanding, it’s a painfully slow way to build up a more general picture of progress.

Instead, try the following:

  • Hinge questioning Asking the whole class to: answer a multi-choice question using hand-signals; or show their thinking using mini-whiteboards.
  • Exit ticketing Giving students 3 questions to answer on a sheet of paper which they have to hand to you as they walk out the door.

As teachers, we want to teach in a way that helps students remember. We want to go beyond lesson learning, and build lasting learning. The lowest hanging fruit in this area are practices which take account of how memory works. The next time you sit down to plan, consider the following:

  • Plan for thinking As Daniel Willingham so eloquently puts it, ‘learning is the residue of thought’. Plan what you want your students to think.
  • Limit multi-tasking Our brains have limited bandwidth, and so the less your students have to think about, the more progress they’ll make. Remove distractions and focus on the essentials.
  • Anchor thinking David Ausubel tells us that ‘what students already know is the most important factor in what they can learn’. Design activities to help your students tap into what they know and make connections with what they’re going to learn about.
  • Space the learning Short sessions of learning spaced out over a series of days and weeks will generate longer term recall than cramming everything into one lesson.
  • Practise deliberately Practice makes permanent (not perfect), so get it right by: practising fewer important things in greater depth; practise complex stuff only when you’ve mastered the basics; practise things you’re already good at; and practise learning from mistakes, not making them. For more on this, I’d highly recommend Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov.

Increase your impact further by looking for points in your lesson where students are likely to struggle, make mistakes or develop misconceptions.

Don’t try to stop them happening. Instead, become sensitive to them them, and expose and address them head on when they arise. If necessary, make them yourself.

Learning is a thinking experience that happens over time, not something that can be divided up neatly into lesson-sized portions. The relationship between lessons is just as important as what happens within them. Get into the habit of:

  • Carving out time during every lesson to revisit previous learning. Be careful not to alter the learning experience too much. You can tweak it slightly, but making it recognisable is better for lasting learning.
  • Building in time to assess student understanding of what you are planning to teach next lesson.

“The star teachers of the 21st Century will be those teachers who work everyday to improve teaching — not only their own, but that of the whole profession.” — James Stigler

Sharing your planning and practice not only brings fresh eyes to old problems and helps us articulate what we’re doing and why, but it also spreads our understanding of what works (and what doesn’t) amongst our profession.

Peps is deeply passionate about planning. If you’ve got ideas for how to improve this guide, reach out to him on twitter. If you enjoyed it, hit the recommend button. And if you’re hungry for more, check out his book on the subject: Lean Lesson Planning.

When it comes to assessing our students, it’s easy to fall into the age old trap of giving an exam, grading it, and moving forward. But to get the most out of the assessments we give, we need to stay focused on the two primary goals of an assessment: gather evidence that our students learned the material, and use it to further motivate your learners.

1. Make sure your assessments are valid and reliable

How to be successful by using backward planning

A test or a pop quiz can both give you a pretty good idea of a student’s learning, but only if it is a valid and reliable assessment without bias. There are many assessments that are pretty flawed with ambiguous wording, unclear instructions, or obscure cultural references that are unreliable and possibly biased. So when designing assessments, be aware of those pitfalls.

The dreaded homework, worksheets, and the answering of chapter questions may be considered “busy work” if it has no purpose. Any assignment or task with the purpose of teaching and learning is an assessment. Group work, projects, and reports, written or oral, are assessments. Any means of analyzing a student’s knowledge, reasoning, or skills requires planning and forethought.

2. Give productive feedback

Productive feedback is more than a score or letter grade, but it’s also more than just a couple words. Teaching students involves giving “corrective,” timely, and criterion-referenced feedback that encourages them through their learning. (You can learn more about this type of feedback here. )

For example, “this is excellent” doesn’t give the A student anywhere to go from there. And if the A student continues to get As without doing anything extra, they might become complacent and expect the A. Many times, the teacher also expects the A and bias can sneak into the assessment. Try giving that student productive feedback that will help them extend their learning, like, “You hit the mark on recognizing the main character’s moral dilemma; nice critical thinking skills! Next time, I’d love to see you consider the antagonist’s perspective.”

Conversely, the student who receives a C grade and “much improved” has no idea what they still need to work on—or what they did well. Many struggling students are unable to see the positive side of their work on their own. When that’s the case, the C student will eventually stop trying very hard if they see no possibility of improving. Then expectations exist, which leaves the door open to bias. Say something positive, but also give them clear instruction on what to work on.

3. Use Backward Design

I highly recommend using Backward Design when planning your lessons. Here’s an overview of how it works.

  • Identify Desired Results → GOALS
  • Determine Acceptable Evidence → ASSESSMENT
  • Plan Learning Experiences → INSTRUCTION

Step One: Identify your goals: What do you want the students to know, be able to reason, or be able to do?

  • Identify standards to support the goals.
  • Develop learning targets from the identified standards.

Step Two: Design your assessment: Keep strategies and evidence of learning in mind.

  • Determine the evidence: What do you want to see that will show you the student knows what you want them to know?
  • Decide on the strategy: How will you elicit that evidence of knowledge, reasoning, or skill from the student?

Step Three: Create strategically aligned lesson plans:

  • Design lesson plans that will assist the student in producing the evidence that shows they’ve achieved your learning goals.
  • If your lesson plans are fun and engaging but the learning isn’t measurable, then your class activities may end up like Pinterest boards: a fun way to pass the time, but specific goals aren’t always at the forefront of your mind.

(For more info on Backward Design, check out this informative post.)

4. Remember that your words matter

As a teacher, I know that the most time-consuming part of the job is assessment and grading. It is also the most important part of the job to ensure our teaching is effective and our students are learning and motivated. When I taught middle school, I remember asking parents if they thought the comments I wrote on the report cards were useful. Their answers were a resounding yes! Most parents do not have time to come in and visit with their child’s teacher to see how things are going. Unfortunately, many parents are unable to attend parent conferences and others do not see the need. Those comments we laboriously compose for individual students are highly valued with some and may be the only communication we have with others.

5. Motivate students to be responsible, active learners

Motivating students to learn transfers the responsibility for learning to them, leaving the teacher as the knowledge base, resource, and facilitator. When they believe their success is your goal, not just to “get through the next chapter” or “proctor the test”, they will be more inclined to ask for support, be creative, and want to learn more. Researcher John Hattie put it best when he said, “The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback. The simplest prescriptions for improving education must be dollops of feedback”.

Assessing our students and using that information to inform, empower, and motivate them in purposeful, productive ways is the key. Yes, it is more work, but it is also more rewarding to see the students improve and learn to challenge themselves every step of the way.

Brita Williams instructs and mentors new teachers as a lecturer at Central Washington University. She also holds her Masters in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University and was a math and history teacher for ten years.

How to Be Successful with Meal Planning

We’ve all heard the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Meal planning is one of the best tools to help you make healthier eating choices, save money and reduce stress in your life.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Living a healthy lifestyle requires being a little more intentional about your choices, and that’s exactly what meal planning can help you do. The process doesn’t have to be super overwhelming or time-consuming like you might think. It does require more time upfront, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

A lot of people are intimidated by the process of meal planning and simply don’t know where to start. I wanted to provide some quick, simple tips that I try to keep in mind when I create my meal plans each week. Hopefully this gives you the courage to get started!

Make it manageable

You don’t have to plan and prep every single meal and snack for the entire week every Sunday. Start by thinking about what would make your life easier. For most people, this is dinner, but for you this could mean having grab-and-go breakfasts or planning healthy snacks. Maybe it’s a couple of these things. Start with something that feels manageable and will help make your week go smoother. Once you get used to your routine, you can start to expand your meal planning activities.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Prioritize your weekly grocery trip

Preparing more homemade meals and snacks means we need to visit the grocery store more frequently. If you’re not used to shopping for groceries at least once a week, this can be a challenging transition. But ensuring you have all the ingredients you need at home will make it easier for you to follow through with your meal plan. Try stocking your fridge and freezer with nutritious staple items you can use to throw together a meal or snack for days when you don’t have a plan in place. Here are some of my go-to items:

  • Salad greens – use to make side salad or top veggie flatbreads.
  • Clementines – easy, portable snack.
  • String cheese – great by itself or with mixed nuts.
  • Bell peppers – great for hummus, flatbreads, or cauliflower fried rice.
  • Ground turkey – good way to mix up your chicken routine.
  • Greek yogurt – smoothies, breakfast, substitute for mayo or sour cream.

Repeat your favorite recipes

Do you have a simple recipe you really love? Make it your go-to meal one night of the week (or for lunches). Getting into a routine makes the process of meal planning and prepping more manageable. There’s nothing wrong with a little repetition. When you get bored, you can always switch to a new favorite!

How to be successful by using backward planning

Take advantage of leftovers

I like to choose 1-2 recipes each week that will make a large enough quantity for us to have leftovers for healthy work lunches. Prepping extra servings during dinner also saves you from having to make all of your lunches on Sunday. A little planning can save you from spending extra on a lunch out or having to take a boring lunch to work.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Keep it simple

Don’t put pressure on yourself to make every meal elaborate and Instagram-worthy. Use the MyPlate model as a guide for building a balanced plate. Pick a vegetable, a protein, and a high-fiber carbohydrate. Incorporate a few servings of fruit and dairy into your meals and snacks. Season everything to your liking and voila! You’ll have a satisfying, nutritious meal.

I hope you find this guide to meal planning helpful! For more on my personal process, including a few sample weekly meal plans, check out this post on Wellness for the Win.

How to be successful by using backward planning

Registered Dietician & Health and Wellness Blogger

How to be successful by using backward planning

No matter what your size, you can’t run a business without talented people ready to move into key positions when the current occupants leave. Even the most successful companies can run off a cliff if they don’t have a solid succession plan in place.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is a strategy for identifying and developing future leaders at your company — not just at the top but for major roles at all levels. It helps your business prepare for all contingencies by preparing high-potential workers for advancement.

Here are seven tips for kick-starting the succession planning process at your company.

1. Be proactive with a plan

Sometimes, you’ll know well in advance if a hard-to-replace team member is going to leave the company — a planned retirement is a good example. But other times, you’ll be caught off-guard by a sudden and potentially disorienting staff departure. That’s why you need a plan — now.

First, consider all the key roles on your team and answer these two questions:

  • What’s the day-to-day impact of X position on our company or department?
  • If the person currently in X position left, how would that affect our operations?

2. Pinpoint succession candidates

Once you have a handle on the ripple effect that the departure of certain employees might cause, choose team members who could potentially step into those positions.

  • If we were to hire for X position internally, which employees would be the strongest candidates for stepping into this role?
  • Would those candidates need training? And, if so, what type?

While the obvious successor to a role may be the person who is immediately next in line in the organizational chart, don’t discount other promising employees. Look for people who display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title.

But don’t just assume you know how people on your team view their career goals. You may have certain team members in mind for senior management roles, but who’s to say they’ll even be interested in the idea once it’s presented to them? If you haven’t already, talk to these employees about how they view their professional future before making your succession choices.

3. Let them know

In private meetings, explain to each protege that they’re being singled out for positions of increasing importance. Establish an understanding that there are no guarantees, and the situation can change due to circumstances encountered by either the company or the succession candidates themselves.

4. Step up professional development efforts

Ideally, you have already been investing in the professional development of those you select as your succession choices. Now that preparation needs to be ramped up. Job rotation is a good way to help your candidates gain additional knowledge and experience. And connecting them with mentors can boost their abilities in the critical area of soft skills: The best leaders have strong communication skills, as well as polished interpersonal abilities, such as empathy and diplomacy.

5. Do a trial run of your succession plan

Don’t wait until there’s a staffing crisis to test whether an employee has the right stuff to assume a more advanced role. Have a potential successor assume some responsibilities of a manager who’s taking a vacation. The employee will gain valuable experience and appreciate the opportunity to shine. And you can assess where that person might need some additional training and development.

6. Integrate your succession plan into your hiring strategy

Once you’ve identified employees as successors for critical roles in your organization, take note of any talent gaps they would leave behind if tapped. That can help you identify where to focus your future recruiting efforts.

7. Think about your own successor

If you decide to take advantage of a new opportunity or retire from the workforce, even your role could someday require backfilling. When making a succession plan for your organization, be sure to include your own position. Which employee could you see stepping into your shoes one day? And what can you do, starting now, to help that person prepare for the transition?

Your staff members aren’t fixed assets — and changes in your team’s lineup are inevitable. You may not always be able to predict a valued employee’s departure from the firm. But through effective succession planning, you can pave the way for the continuity so critical to your business’s future.

I am opening this topic for discussion what you should know to be a planning engineer?Should I Be an Engineer?

Top 10 steps you should do to be a successful planning engineer

I think there is a growing demand for the planning engineers specially in the middle east, some new graduated engineers thinking to start their careers as planning engineers but they do not know what to do, Therefore i opened this discussion to share our knowledge and thoughts.

I will put my point of view and every one is welcome to comment and share us with his / her thoughts. To be a successful planning engineer you should do the following Engineering Planning and Management :

1- Please take my golden advise NEVER EVER look for the salary in your first 5 years in your career , Money will come later on if you are well experienced and well educated. Just look for the experience first (Big projects, international companies, professional managers….etc) even if it will cost you less salary or more efforts, after few years you may get double salary of your colleges because you planned for your future. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Most Successful Engineers who success to plan for their carrier from day 1.

2- Do not start your carrier as a planning engineer , i believe you should work as a site engineer first to know the sequence of work and to feel the site work environment and this will help you later to estimate activities durations and sequence activity. I recommend to work 1 to 2 years as a site engineer to know Engineering Project Lessons Learned.

3- Enhance your computer software knowledge , while you are working as a site engineer you need to enhance your software experience to be able to go to the next level, at least you should know Auto Cad, Excel, Word, and of course our favorite software Primavera. do a time schedules for the works you are supervising and show it to the project planning engineer and get his / her advise.

4- Next Level, Join the technical office : after you spent 1 or 2 years as a site engineer try to join the technical office in the site, mainly try to work as a quantity surveyor Q.S. This will improve your skills to read the drawings and to feel the numbers. Remember that planning engineer job mainly dealing with numbers such as quantities, productivity, progress percentages, manpower….etc, it is important for a successful planning engineer to know how to make a fast and accurate quantity surveyor or even to be monitoring a quantity surveyor under planning engineering department. I recommend to work 1 year as a quantity surveyor.

5- Study project management : the real planning engineer not the one who knows primavera only, you should know the concept of the project management and this will make your life much easy. So i recommend to study the PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) ® during your work as a quantity surveyor Q.S, try to be certified from PMI because this will help you to go to the next level.

6- Next level, work as a scheduler or a junior planning engineer : if you succeeded to be a Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certified, then it will be easy to find a scheduler or a junior planning engineer job. Remember at this stage you still looking for experience not the money. I recommend to work as scheduler or a junior planning engineer for 2 years and it is better to complete one or more project from the very beginning to the very end.

7- Primavera and Microsoft excel are the core tools for the planning engineer : during your work as a scheduler or a junior planning engineer you should reach an advanced level in primavera and excel latest versions, i recommend to take advanced courses (could be online courses).

8- sharing your knowledge and experience with others : some people may think that if they share the knowledge and experience with others it reduce their chance to be special and give others more power with negative impact on the one who is sharing his ideas, knowledge and experience with others, This is totally not true because the moment you think that you know every thing is the same moment you will start falling behind. sharing knowledge and experience is a perfect method to promote your self and find out many many mistakes you was doing and thinking that every thing is perfect. Just try it .

9- Next start looking for a stable position with good salary : after reaching the step no. 8 you should be qualified for a good position as a planning engineer but i recommend to look for a stable company with good salaries for your next 3 to 4 years. work stability will be a factor now in your c.v, Therefore i recommend to choose a stable company or even if your existing company is stable that is fine.

10- Continue learning and improve your skills & knowledge : you can do this by checking the planning engineers websites, groups , forums or even study a master degree in management.

at the end of this article i want to draw you attention to the self motivation factors which will keep you going on the right road of success, never be disappointed from your mistakes or from others judgement. Remember the more you work the more chance you will do mistakes and the different between the successful planning engineer and the loser planning engineer that the first one learns from his mistakes and the second one get disappointed easily.