When we talk about “succession planning”, the first thing that comes to mind is the “seamless process of replacing a top executive when he or she decides to leave the organization”. However, as business trends change, so does the system. The procedure is now more inclusive with wider scope. Aside from exit strategies, it takes into account the (short-term and long-term) stability and sustainability of a company’s human resources plus the individual development of its employees.
Businesses, irrespective of size, legal structure, nature or industry, are always faced with uncertainties – employees or executives leave. They may reach retirement age, become incapacitated, receive a better position within or outside the company. Regardless of the reason, the institution must always be ready to fill that void with the right person to ensure continuity of leadership and operations.
There is no prescribed formula in succession planning but here are a few points to consider:
- Develop and maintain an updated demographic profile of the workforce. This identifies each member’s roles, determines key position(s) that are critical in the short- and long-term operations and recognize personnel with the potential and eligibility to replace or assume other posts. The data also helps in conducting an analysis of the current office’s collective expertise and what it needs in the future.
- Staff development as part of succession planning, requires organizations to provide further training to ensure employees acquire the needed know-how. Equally important is getting the “soft” skills associated with the demands of the job (decision-making, leadership, critical thinking, interpersonal and communication). Develop programs and coach/mentor them while helping them acclimate to the situation. This phase likewise involves increasing the scope of their responsibilities and, most importantly, getting the individual participate in the action plan.
- Conduct a regular review to re-assess if targets are achieved. If there are changes in goals and/or job requirements, be proactive and make adjustments. Creating a plan is not enough, it must be updated periodically to reflect the shifting demands of the enterprise and the market.
- Select individuals based on competencies and not personalities. Hiring internally is almost always more preferable than contracting out. However, the pros and cons must be carefully considered. Regardless of what management decides, it must be communicated to all stakeholders to avoid resentment and confusion.
The success of an enterprise highly depends on its qualifications, knowledge and experience, which are tied to its people. The moment a staff member walks out, they take with them this valuable asset. Instead of scrambling and making hasty or uninformed decisions, it is always best to prepare for any eventuality. Make sure to find the individual who will and can support and complement the company’s vision, values and objectives.
Succession planning is not a one-time event, it is a continuous process – it evolves with your trade and your experiences. It is never too early to start one. Do it now!
Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog