How to Identify a Successor

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Safeguarding an organization’s long term sustainability requires efficient talent management. Succession planning is a strategic management tool which can go a long way in ensuring that the organization can offset all possible risks posed by sudden vacancy in critical positions.

Creating Succession Plans

Identification of a successor in a timely manner is important and the choice is crucial. A change invariably brings in consequences and in the case of an organization, the high stakes involved dictate terms of utmost caution and care. Identification of a successor could be done as an emergency process or a well thought out one with a long term perspective or a combination of the two. Organizations across the world, irrespective of their size or scale of operations are realizing the importance of talent management so that the right individuals are ready and equipped to be placed in the right positions as the need arises.

Before going on to identify the successor, the key roles and positions that are vital to the smooth functioning of an organization must be identified. It is extremely important that the company’s vision, mission, future growth expectations, corporate strategy, culture and values are understood and ingrained into the succession planning model. Success of any such plan is contingent upon the top management’s belief in it as a tool that can enable it to maintain strength and consistency in times of change. It also depends on aligning the talent to the corporate objectives.

What to Look for

Key roles identified require certain competencies, experience and educational qualifications. Valuable help is rendered in this process by intelligent charting software technology which can help generate customized succession plans. It is vital to make sense of the tremendous amount of data of an organization so that scattered information can be harvested into meaningful scenarios. Further suitability of a candidate may be assessed using personality assessment, cognitive testing, team based interviews, assessing response in a simulated environment, gauging ability to manage complexity, etc.

Once the successors have been identified, the process of grooming is undertaken. The future career expectations and the inclination of the candidates to take on the roles are kept in mind, while designing a development plan. Talent management software can appropriately identify strengths and gaps and help design a suitable plan. Adequate incentives and compensation must be defined, but at the same time terms and conditions related to performance and expectations must be laid out clearly. The potential successors can be initiated into the bump and grind of on the job education by giving them greater responsibility, being led through development experiences and through encouragement for greater participation in critical decision making.

Preparing for Succession

It can be an individual or a pool of high potential candidates who are readied for the job. It is important that organizations realize how crucial succession planning is for an organization as a whole and not just for leadership roles. It makes a case for an ongoing and steady process which facilitates an organization to maintain adequate bench strength for all critical positions.

Apart from these there are certain qualities that a successor in a lead position must have – ability to be articulate, not shy away from challenges, trustworthy and command respect. A worthy successor should have a desirable mix of knowledge, experience, interpersonal skills and credibility—a combination seemingly hard to find but not impossible.

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