is the systematic and deliberate process of ensuring the availability of
highly qualified people for all positions not only in the present time,
but at any point in the future as well. In essence, succession
planning means preparing for the future exit of key personnel within the
company by identifying and developing able understudies to replace them
when the need arises.
Succession planning is most important
to the CEO position, but is undoubtedly also applicable to all other
planning encompasses recruitment of the right employees, continuous build-up
of their skills, abilities, and maturity, and retention of these employees
within the company, to ensure that any position
for whatever reason can easily be
filled up by them.
planning is known to almost all major organizations today, but is seldom
implemented effectively. In fact, many top people tend to ignore
this process for various reasons. Some think that their time won't
come, while others are plainly too busy with their current activities to
allocate time and resources for it. Unfortunately, lack of
succession planning can jeopardize the viability of a company in an
instant. The sudden loss of a CEO with nobody primed to fill up the void left behind
can bring down the company's stock price like a disaster has just
A good understanding of the
organization's long-term goals and objectives, as well as its growth path
and relevant industry trends, is needed for effective succession planning.
HR managers must be aware of where the company is going to be able to meet
the company's future
requirements for key personnel.
Meeting future needs means continuously developing the
existing pool of talents to prepare them for bigger roles someday and hiring people at the
right moment to augment all foreseen gaps.
How succession planning
should be done is still a hotly debated issue up to now. The
traditional way of doing it is to identify successors at every senior
post in advance, and to identify key people with high potential within the younger
generations for continuous grooming as they mature within the company.
These key people are then rewarded with a series of promotions to keep
them within the company until they themselves have reached a senior post.
organizations, which are flatter in structure than the conservative ones,
tend to have less flexibility in implementing an effective succession
planning program in this traditional manner. For one, the lesser
number of rungs in a modern corporate ladder doesn't offer too many
opportunities for promotion. Another reason is the fact that many
key people in modern companies today are technology specialists or
individual contributors who are motivated by 'challenge' rather than the
desire to be promoted to managerial positions.
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technical people or scientists therefore requires a
different approach versus people who want to be senior managers.
Thus, HR managers must be aware of the
fact that the idea of career success varies from one person to another.
They must have a clear understanding of what career success means to each
of their key individuals in order to better manage their retention within
companies identify successors in advance as part of their succession
planning. Some companies instead devote their efforts to developing
a very strong pool of candidates, from which a 'successor' is pulled every
time there is a need for it. When this need arises, the strongest
candidate at that time becomes the successor.
source a successor internally or externally is another highly contested
issue. Some companies find it more rewarding to promote a successor
from within, while others prefer to get their candidates externally.
There really is no hard-fast rule on this, but experts tend to agree that
a non-profitable or mismanaged company is better off getting its next
leader from outside the current organization.
internal promotions are a good motivation for incumbent people to do their
best, it is good practice to bring in new blood into the organization once
in a while. Experts believe that sourcing
all future executives from within the company is dangerous, since this
practice tends to limit internal management skills and thought processes
to what had been home-grown and institutionalized over the years.
New problems may require new solutions, which can only be brought in by
external executives. In short, diversity of management gene pool is an
important factor of succession planning.
In the end, the
success of a company's succession planning program depends on how well the
CEO and its senior management staff recognizes the importance of having
somebody step into their shoes, and those of other key people, when
they're gone, whether as planned or in an unexpected manner. After
all, they are the ones charting the course of the company.
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