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Tips for Effective Succession Planning

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 11/10/2010

Do you think your organization is too dependent on a handful of key individuals who are indispensable? If so, learn how to put in place an effective succession planning process, develop and groom new talent, and enhance your organization’s long-term stability.

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    Tips for Effective Succession Planning

    Succession Planning for your Business One of the key tools to manage change successfully within the organization is effective succession planning. A well planned succession process ensures a smooth transition within the organization when one superior steps down and another one is already set to take over the responsibilities.

    1. Make Succession Planning a Collective Process

    The succession planning process must not be implemented just by the CEO and the head of HR department without consultation with other important personnel who have a key stake in the organization. The board of directors should be involved in the process and views of other key personnel should also be sought about the choice of a successor. In fact, the succession plan should be a constant process because it leads to the identification and development of talent within the organization, and also allows evaluation of external talent that may fit perfectly within the organization’s objectives and mission.

    2. Prepare a Short-list of Probable Candidates

    The people who are engaged in developing and implementing the succession plan should provide their inputs and come up with probable names of individuals that they find suitable for the particular position. If company policy allows for external candidates to be considered, there should be two separate short-lists for internal and external candidates. To ensure effective succession planning, the process should be made as objective and unemotional as possible. The choice of candidates should be purely based on merit, and no other considerations should influence the decision.

    3. Evaluate the Candidates on Specified Parameters

    All candidates that are in the reckoning for the successor’s position should be evaluated on clearly determined parameters such as leadership qualities, experience, educational background and skills, reputation, and past track record of performance. If there is more than one candidate who seems to fit the bill perfectly, all such candidates should be groomed and developed equally for the future position. It helps to expand management’s options with regard to a successor and also builds a healthy pool of talent within the organization. If necessary, the people involved in the succession planning process may conduct a vote to identify the most acceptable successor for the particular position.

    4. Develop and Groom the Chosen Successor

    One of the cardinal management mistakes that many organizations commit is to choose the successor at the last minute and ask him to take the plunge immediately into a highly responsible position. An effective succession planning process is one that begins well in advance before the position becomes vacant. This allows for sufficient time to increase the tasks and responsibilities of the successor, bring him on the board of directors if necessary, and prepare him sufficiently for the future position that he has been chosen for. This ensures a smooth succession for the organization as well as the individual who takes over the responsibilities quite naturally.

    Photo Credit: arte ram