The What, How, Where, When & Why of Succession Planning
By: Clark Jenkins
Succession planning is, or at least should be, a vital part of any organization’s long-term strategy. With the understanding that this will be unique to the reflection of your own organization, succession plans should be customized to the needs and goals set forth by the existing leaders. We would like to share some of the core components of succession planning as it pertains to organizations today.
Often referred to in today’s world as Talent Management, succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. This is a process whereby an organization ensures that employees are recruited and developed to fill each key role within the company.
Succession planning starts with identifying the key roles. Next we must define the competencies and profile drivers required for that role. We then assess the individuals against the defined criteria. After the assessment, we are able to identify the talent that has the potential to fill the key roles. The final step is developing the talent to gain the skills needed to fill the key roles and then measure the progress against the defined timeline.
The most traditional approach had been for organizations to implement succession planning within their own human resources department. The trend over the past few years has been to hire outside consulting firms with a non bias to take a look at the talent pool and help to assess the organization’s needs. By breaking away from the biased approach of the widely used “nine-box” tool, we have seen an influx of software based systems such as Pinsight that have made the process far more effective and practical.
Succession planning is a constant process that organizations use on a daily basis. As is the case in most organizations, developing the next leader tends to be a lengthy process. Set certain dates within the defined time frame to reassess the company needs and review your best practices as they may shift. As new leaders emerge and fill new roles, there is now a need to fill the positions they are leaving.
An effective succession planning strategy, coupled with solid career development programs, will help paint a more promising future for employees. It improves employee commitment, engagement and retention. From a financial standpoint, succession planning helps to lower the cost associated with external recruiting. By defining the path for emerging leaders with the buy-in from the key stakeholders, succession planning is an essential process that will ensure long-term organizational success.