Succession planning is an essential aspect of any successful business. It ensures a sense of continuity and efficiency.
There are many advocates of flat structures of functioning, but there is a degree of amorphism and passing the buck in such functioning. It may present a degree of openness and approachability, but it works this far, and no more.
A dynamic organization sees a constant ebb and flow of employees, but some positions need to be filled and fast.
Some roles cannot be left empty. Hence it is prudent to clearly mark out a potential candidate to fulfill the seat once it becomes vacant.
This kind of planning involves the CEO to departmental heads’ positions.
Over 90% of younger workers (18 to 34) said that working at a company with a clear succession plan would improve their engagement level in a survey by Software Advice.
So how do to go about having a succession strategy in place for the various roles in a company.
It is important first to earmark a person suitable for the role and observe his or her performance. Once the selection committee or the person in charge or the human resource division is clear about the capabilities, convey the same to the incumbent that s/he is being considered for the role.
Communication is the key. Otherwise, the deserving and talented person finds greener pastures if they feel that their progress to the next level is not happening.
Research by insurance company MassMutual reveals that 25% of employees who have been chosen to fill in aren’t aware they are the chosen successor.
Bosses too frequently utter the words, ‘But I had great plans for you’, when the ear-marked successor hands their notice in.
Decide on how the transition is to take place.
Once a team member departs or plans to depart, chalk out a plan on how to inform the team members and select management.
Once the team has got used to the news of a boss departing and a new one taking over, then make the news official. This allows time for any upsets or something similar to settle down.
It is also important to keep in mind how much and what everyone in the company has to know. Not everyone in the upper management needs to be privy to everything. Ensure that the successor and a select few are engaged in the transition or those associated with the department are key abreast of the situation.
This is where communication and leadership skills come in handy.
The selection process for the successor.
A fair and equitable process that is as transparent as possible is desirable, but not always possible.
Each company has to decide on how they want to go about selecting a successor.
Sometimes bigger company make an internal announcement about a vacant position and allow everyone interested to apply and go through an internal selection process. This build confidence and a reassurance that the position has been filled by the best available candidate.
But this is not possible always. Smaller firms sometimes promote the next in line or already have trained someone to take over, so the transition is smooth.
Big companies need to look at having a process in place for succession if an incumbent leaves.
Also a periodic review of the process is necessary. Sometimes businesses and needs and organizational direction change and a marked successor may not fit the role.
Have a mentoring and skill development process in place. Any person earmarked for a possible leadership role in the future needs to be overseen, given all possible opportunities to develop and learn additional skills.
It takes an active human resource department and mature leaders to put all this in place without upsetting the balance of a working team.