Working yourself out of your role: the succession plan
VP of Engineering at sweetgreen
"I had moments in my career when I felt the pressure of having to scale up, or the frustration of not being able to take on new opportunities because I was tied to my current role. Having too many things to do, or too many responsibilities were good signs that I needed to grow to an upper level and be more efficient. However, in order to grow and take a larger role, I first needed to find a way to have my current responsibilities covered so I could move on."
During my career at Amazon Web Services, I learned how to prepare a "succession plan" describing how I would transition my own position to someone else, if I ever had to take care of another project. While the approach could be perceived as intimidating since you're essentially describing how to be replaced, it's also very liberating because it enabled me to describe my responsibilities in a way that another leader could understand or take over. With this plan established, I wasn't the bottleneck to my team and my own personal growth anymore. This enabled me to convince the executive team to give me broader responsibilities, knowing that we had a plan in place to keep my previous role well covered.
"Write your succession plan as soon as you feel you have a good understanding of your role. Do not passively wait for an opportunity to take a new project to come. Revisit the document regularly to keep it up to date and assess the evolution of your role within the organization. Whenever the opportunity to move on comes, you'll be ready." "If you have a team of managers, a succession plan also helps you and your direct reports to have a mutual understanding of each other's role."
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