Welcome to the September 2010 issue of Alignment Solutions! Here’s what’s going on:
This month’s theme is succession planning. After firing so many workers, organizations are learning that it is more important than ever to be sure they have the right people in critical and leadership positions. In addition, they face the possibility that their remaining employees will leave as the economy recovers and they have choices about where they work. How do you plan to staff your organization’s critical and leadership positions? This month we go over some of the basics of succession planning, including how its elements can ease personal as well as workplace transitions.
The Feature Article, “Succession Planning Myths and Realities,” distinguishes between succession planning and replacement planning, and dispels five common myths.
In “Succession Planning: Benefits and Critical Success Factors,” the Business Solutions section lists compelling ways that succession planning can optimize business results, and identifies some key factors that can make or break the success of your process.
In the Personal Solutions section, “What’s Your Personal Succession Planning Process?” suggests how to adapt the succession planning process to our personal lives in ways that help ease the transitions we face – e.g., to a new job, to a new career, or to retirement.
I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!
Do you know someone who could benefit from the value we provide? If so, let’s create a win-win-win situation! Contact us about how we can make this happen.
Succession Planning Myths and Realities
Succession planning is a concept that often is misunderstood, to the detriment of all concerned. People tend to use the term incorrectly, thinking it means one thing when actually it means something quite different. For example, people often confuse the succession planning process, which focuses on future needs of the organization, with replacement planning, which is directed at filling immediate vacancies. So before we get to the myths and realities of succession planning, let’s define this concept to make sure we’re on the same page.
Succession planning is an on-going, long-term process to systematically develop talent throughout the organization so that there is a readily available, qualified pool of candidates to fill critical positions as they become vacant. The key is to develop the talent before individuals are promoted so they can be productive immediately. The ability to hit the ground running is particularly important for those who fill critical positions.
Here are five of the most common myths about effective succession planning and the realities behind each one:
MYTH #1: Succession planning is an event performed as needed.
REALITY: Effective succession planning requires an on-going, systematic process that is tied to the organization’s strategy.
MYTH #2: Succession planning and replacement planning are the same thing.
REALITY: While people often confuse succession planning with replacement planning, the two are very different processes. Replacement planning is used to fill vacancies as they occur without questioning the need to do so. In contrast, succession planning is forward-looking, considering not just the organization’s present needs, but its future direction and related needs as well. For example, it’s possible that positions that exist today will not be necessary in a few years, or that there will be more effective alternatives to staffing them, or that new positions will arise. Effective succession planning processes consider all of these possibilities.
MYTH #3: Succession planning focuses only on senior level positions.
REALITY: To be most effective, the succession planning process must extend to all critical positions throughout the organization. A position is critical if the failure to staff it results in the organization’s inability to achieve its mission.
MYTH #4: During the succession planning process, a few candidates are identified in each area and “groomed” for higher level positions.
REALITY: Potential replacements can come from anywhere within the organization, and employees self-select into desired career paths. Professional development is available to those who choose to take advantage of it, not just to a select few.
MYTH #5: Once organizational leaders recognize the importance of succession planning, implementation is fairly straightforward.
REALITY: Implementing an effective succession planning process is not an easy undertaking. Essentially it is a form of organizational change, and like any change, it must be well planned, have sufficient support, and be treated as a long-term commitment. There are critical success factors that, if not present, will cause the effort to fail.
How important should having an effective succession planning process be in your organization? Before you answer, try this quick exercise: Pick a specific critical job in your organization – i.e., one that, if not staffed, would prevent the organization from achieving its mission. Imagine that the person doing that job leaves abruptly, and there is no one qualified to replace him/her. What would happen? After contemplating the answer to that question, you are ready to determine how high a priority succession planning should be in your organization.