• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Succession planning 2


We started discussing succession planning in the last article. Before I delve into today’s discussion, I must comment on the craziness that is Coronavirus. In almost a twinkling of an eye many international conferences and trainings around the world have been cancelled, airlines are cancelling their flights, countries are on lock down, schools are working only on the internet.

Nobody is sure as to whether or not the situation is as bad as to warrant all this or if it is purely for prevention purposes or if it is a fall out of the social media hype? I am hoping we will know for sure soon and everything will go back to normal. This clearly shows how everything is dynamic and if you remain static you will be very quickly run over.

As though that is not enough, oil prices have dropped, which means what and what, I will not be discussing that here. How have all these things affected businesses or at least your business and most especially your employees. I am sure you have seen the handwriting on the wall and are prepared.

We discussed succession planning last time at length. This week is just a short piece about a few steps to take to ensure your succession planning is well done. Succession planning is actually quite simple to do and we must all in our organisations ensure we have this in place. There are many ways to go about it and these are just some pillars.

Just a recap, succession planning is the process of identifying influential positions within an organisation, then training existing employees or new candidates to ensure those roles do not go unfilled. A succession plan typically focuses on high-level and strategic positions that, if left open, would adversely affect the company’s profitability and success.

Taking into consideration the number of choices, opportunities and even misfortunes that can affect anyone’s career, it becomes essential to prepare for a leader’s or strategic position holder’s sudden or unexpected departure with a proper succession plan.

Often the importance or urgency to craft this plan may not be obvious because everything seems quiet and there are more pressing things to be done. However, failure to do so could severely jeopardize a company’s future should a strategic position suddenly fall vacant.

A successful succession plan often is not just a simplistic cross-training of employees on multiple roles. Neither is it just HR paperwork. The first step is to identify the roles that are fundamental to a business’ success. These are roles that if left unfilled, could negatively impact the company’s growth. Typically, a succession plan will mirror a company’s hierarchy, higher-ranking and strategic positions being more vital to an organisation’s success than those who command less responsibility. Once management prioritises the most critical roles, they can form their succession plan accordingly.

Learning from the incumbent directly requires his or her buy-in to the planning process. Many leaders don’t want to think about a time when they will no longer be needed at the company, much less help identify or train their replacements. A leader’s successor must be aware of the company’s or department’s short- and long-term performance goals and be able to pick up where the previous leader left off. Also possessing all the requisite skills and personality traits. Learning these details after the leader’s departure defeats the purpose of a succession plan.

There are many advantages to naming an existing employee as a successor (saving on recruiting and onboarding costs, hitting the ground running, employee loyalty and team bonding to mention a few). However, there are times when there are no qualified employees, a replacement has to be found externally.

This will change the direction of the succession plan, as instead of training a current employee to transition into a leader’s role, the focus will shift to developing a process by which a new hire can become a functioning leader as quickly and smoothly as possible. Usually even before the vacancy exists, if the company practises pipeline recruitment, there is somebody that has already been identified. (Pipeline recruitment is when you already identify a possible replacement of a strategic position.)

The plan in this instance may include developing process charts, training materials and detailed lists of goals and responsibilities, and training employees in supportive roles on functions of the leader’s role so they can communicate them to the successor to expedite their hitting the ground running.

Provided that a high-potential employee has been identified internally as a suitable successor, management should gauge their interest, then discuss training or mentoring plans. This involves establishing a timetable for the training process and setting expectations for the position’s duties.

Failure to share plans for succession with skilled and knowledgeable employees could result in their pursuing other opportunities, simply because plans for advancement were not discussed. I know many organisations that have lost people who they had been grooming without telling them what for. Both organisation and employee lose out because even the employee is having to prove herself a fresh I a new organisation.

Conversely, proper succession planning boosts retention efforts by offering worthy employee’s opportunities for promotion.

Succession planning is not simply another ticked box on management’s to-do list, but rather a strategic investment in a company’s future. Few leaders will remain with an organisation until its demise. Therefore, companies must prepare for long-term success after leaders retire or move on to the next step in their career. In order to achieve this, it’s essential that management develop a succession plan for all positions integral to the company’s operations as the business continues to evolve.

The corollary of the succession plan, is career pathing. We will discuss that in our next discussion because that is what makes succession planning successful. As is usual have a great weekend.