What is Succession Planning?
By definition Succession Planning is "A process of systematically and deliberately preparing for future changes of leadership in key positions. The process may identify potential replacements and provide strategies for developing and/or hiring individuals to meet future needs."
The Succession Planning Process
Succession planning requires steps to obtain leadership guidance, collect relevant information, make key decisions, and execute succession and development actions. If undertaking this Succession Planning for the first time, you should consider creating a process that is "separate" from other, related activities such as performance management and development planning. Below are basic components of an initial Succession Planning process.
Define Purpose, Goals, and Scope
The top leader of the organization outlines the purpose, goals, and scope of the succession planning activity. Assemble an Oversight Committee
The committee’s role is to establish a succession planning process that can fulfill the purpose, goals, and scope outlined by the top leader, and to govern over the process until most of the major questions and issues have been resolved.
The oversight committee creates policy around such issues as data security, assessment, succession nominations, communication and development.
Define Operational Parameters
Again, this is the purview of the oversight committee. Operational parameters include: positions for which successors will be nominated, the scope of the pool of succession nominees and the rating scales used for assessing contribution and potential.
Develop and Conduct the Assessment
The assessment is essential for comparing succession candidates and slotting them against specific succession positions. The assessment data, generally provided by direct managers of the succession pool, should be reviewed for equity in the ratings and for consensus in the nominations.
Compile and Organize the Data
The voluminous data that is collected must be compiled into the kind of information needed by leaders to make key decisions. Some of the compilations include: coded organization charts, a “contribution-potential matrix,” reports of any “at risk” positions or individuals, and profiles for all individuals and positions. A spreadsheet or dedicated tool for organizing and displaying such information is recommended.
Conduct organizational Reviews
Starting with business unit/functional heads, the succession plan and reports compiled are reviewed and key decisions made. These decisions could range from developmental opportunities for future leaders to actual leadership appointments. The business unit/functional level reviews are followed by reviews at the highest level – with correspondingly higher level decisions.
Implement Development Plans
While succession decisions may be executed immediately after the reviews, the developmental opportunities must be pursued over the following weeks and months. For future leaders to realize their potential and be better positioned to “step up” when the time comes, these development opportunities must not be allowed to deteriorate, or be put aside once the spotlight is off the succession planning process.
Assess Process Effectiveness
Like any other business process, your succession planning process will need to be improved, streamlined, integrated with other human resources processes and possibly expanded to accommodate additional participants. While the experience is fresh, take a moment to gather feedback and assess process effectiveness – then set and achieve the most critical improvement objectives.
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