Deb Schultz, GPHR, SPHR, MRA – The Management Association
Succession planning is an organized method of identifying, evaluating, selecting and developing individuals to fill future available positions. Although usually used for management and executive positions, it can be used for any positions critical to an organization.
Yes, it comes with challenges too. To name a critical few: available time for providing coaching, training and other opportunities; unrealistic expectations – participating in succession doesn’t guarantee promotion nor does it guarantee an internal successor will always be ready when a key position becomes available; employees identified (or not identified) as successors may leave, and it requires a long term commitment.
Identifying future leaders is art and science. It’s a joint responsibility for the organization and the employee. It must be supported by top management and be incorporated with other organization systems such as performance management, leadership development and compensation. Line managers must recognize and be held accountable for their critical role in identifying potential candidates and providing these candidates with learning opportunities. Managers play a key role in coaching employees and communicating with employees about their future career aspirations. Employees must accept responsibility for their performance, learning new skills and continuing to develop. Other factors critical to the success of a succession planning program are, although not limited to: commitment of sufficient resources – particularly the valuable commodity of time; it must focus on the future, not the current needs of the organization; processes, forms and related systems should be simple and useful; succession planning must be flexible, dynamic and adapt to changes in the organization and market.
Banking and tackling succession head-on allows organizations to meet future needs, by design, and takes time to realize the benefits of such an effort. It can have some immediate benefits, although the greatest benefit comes as future positions become available and qualified people are ready to be promoted or transitioned into those mission-critical jobs.
Succession planning enables organizations to create a competitive advantage through talent – the best time to start banking and tackling your strategy is now!
Deb Schultz holds the position of Strategic Human Resource Services Director for MRA. She is an experienced HR consultant, speaker and trainer, described by her customers as thorough, objective, focused and dynamic. She was a recent speaker at the IBA Human Resources Conference.