Every organization will have many key roles which are being carried out by highly capable individuals. It is important to ensure that all such key posts never lie vacant; as such vacant posts can become detrimental to the continuity of management of the organization.
Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders, who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available.
Succession planning is not a new phenomenon. It has been present since olden days of kingdoms and monarchies. The kings and leaders used to identify in advance about who will succeed them in future, thereby ensuring continuity of leadership at the highest and key positions.
In modern businesses, success planning is much more important and critical; especially in today’s scenario of global, large and niche businesses. In business, succession planning entails developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company in future. Succession planning in businesses should be a continuous and systematic process.
Always the focus is on hiring good talent for the organization, continuously nurturing the employees through training and mentoring to prepare them for the next higher level roles. This helps organizations to create a pool of talented employees for each key position. The organizations also work on preparing a clear career growth plan for each such key employee. Organizations give enough thought to the retention of key employees, and to the consequences that the departure of key employees may have on the business.
Succession planning involves great focus on executive talent development and creating a healthy “bench” of talented personnel internally who are ready to take up the higher executive roles. Some of the great companies where succession planning has been done meticulously and as a very important business process include GE, Honeywell, Microsoft, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, IBM, P&G to name a few.
Companies devise elaborate models to characterize their succession and development practices. Most reflect a cyclical series of activities that include these fundamentals:
The above processes described may sound very generic, but are very difficult to implement. Identifying the right talents, retaining them on a longer term, grooming them for future roles, keeping them engaged with the company is always a daunting task. Succession planning requires current senior leadership commitment and resolve to find and develop next level of leaders in time.
Succession planning is a much needed process for organizations to ensure that no key role in the organization ever remain open in absence of availability of right talent. Succession planning is difficult and requires immense commitment and focus. Nevertheless, every large business will have to do succession planning.
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