Succession Planning Process

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Succession planning is a process whereby an organization ensures that employees are recruited and developed to fill each key role within the company. Through this succession planning process, managers recruit superior employees, develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and prepare them for advancement into ever more challenging roles. Actively pursuing succession planning ensures that employees are constantly developed to fill each needed role.

As the organization expands, loses key employees, provides promotional opportunities, and increases sales, succession planning guarantees that it has employees on hand ready and waiting to fill new roles. Effective, proactive succession planning leaves an organization well prepared for expansion, loss of employees, filling a new job, employee promotions, and organizational redesign for opportunities. Effective succession planning builds bench strength.

Succession Planning: The Process

Succession planning provides a roadmap to the future workforce structure by identifying successors, creating talent pools for key positions, and mitigating the risk of vacancies that could effect revenue, compliance, operations or other critical processes. Single purpose succession planning solutions can often be costly and hard to implement, as they rely on detailed evaluations of all designations and employees. While valuable, they are often too complex for resource-strapped organizations to manage.

In many cases, the management team is aware of potential successors. Avoiding the usual complex and lengthy skills documentation process, using organizational charts can help decision-makers, managers, executives and stakeholders use their first hand knowledge to create succession plans. Combining this qualitative knowledge with quantitative evaluations enables an organization to build succession plans quickly, avoiding the intense staff work and exhaustive appraisals that hamper other succession planning efforts.

Most companies devise complex models for their succession and development practices. These reflect a cyclical series of activities that include these fundamentals:

  • Identify key roles for succession or replacement planning
  • Define the competencies and motivational profile required to undertake those roles
  • Assess people against these criteria with a future orientation
  • Identify pools of talent that could potentially fill and perform highly in key roles
  • Develop employees to be ready for advancement into key roles, primarily through the right set of experiences.

In many companies, over the past several years, the emphasis has shifted from planning job assignments to development, with much greater focus on managing key experiences that are critical to growing global business leaders

Grooming Employees for Succession

To develop employees for a succession plan, managers need to use such practices as lateral moves, assignment to special projects, team leadership roles, and both internal and external training and development. Through this succession planning process, the company can retain superior employees because they appreciate the time, attention, and development invested in them. People are more motivated and engaged when they can see a career path for their continued growth and development.

To effectively do succession planning in an organization, planners must identify the organization’s long term goals and understand the developmental needs of their employees. They must ensure that all key employees understand their career paths and the roles they are being developed to fill. Managers need to focus resources on key employee retention, and need to be aware of employment trends in the area to know the roles they will have a difficult time filling externally.

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