Succession Planning

The Importance of Succession Planning

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is the process of selecting and training individuals to replace critical leadership roles when they become vacant. This is done to ensure an organisation continues to run smoothly when a current incumbent in a key role leaves, or dies. In some organisations the individuals selected are notified, whereas in others, only senior management is privy to this information. Chosen individuals are either selected from an internal pool of employees or specifically recruited with Succession planning in mind.


Why is Succession Planning required?

The senior management of an organisation is responsible for making decisions that impact the organisation, its employees, the shareholders and when large enough, the wider community. Thus it is imperative all organisations find, train and nurture talented individuals who will serve the best interests of the organisation and its respective stakeholders.

Additionally, the unexpected departure of key employees can have severe and often negative consequences on a business. This is true for both large and small organisations. Along with succession planning, it is also important for HR managers to focus on retention of key employees, and the chosen candidates in the leadership pipeline.


HR Steps to Succession Planning


Step 1: Identify Critical Roles

Pinpoint which roles are crucial to the organisation’s survival, keeping in mind existing needs and objectives, along with expansion strategies, if any.


Step 2: Determine Critical Skills

What core skills or talents are vital to the critical role? Create a Leadership profile of what the ideal individual for the role would be, including work experience, educational background and both hard and soft skills.


Step 3: Determine dates and timelines

Once what and who has been identified, the next step is to know when. Factor in how long would a candidate need to work with the organisation to have the necessary knowledge to take on the position? If a business is in expansion phase, at what stage or when would internal promotions create leadership gaps that need to be addressed.


Step 4: Propose the Succession Plan

Present the roles and profiles to senior management and amend one or both elements as required until there is consensus. This is necessary especially if external hires are required to fill roles as it will impact overheads. Confirm if the chosen candidate should be informed.


Step 5: Select or Recruit

Evaluate existing employees to compare their fit against the created Leadership profile and make a short-list. If no suitable employee meets the criteria, recruit strong candidates from outside the organisation.


Step 6: Train, Develop and Retain

Candidates must be given additional training on leadership and management skills and function based training to ensure they can take on the position when required. Retention of the candidate is also vital to keep the Leadership pipeline on track, but it is always recommended to have resumes of back-up candidates on hand.

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