An article written by Dr. Sudhakar Kota and Dr. Ajith Kumar published on Khaleej Times, July 16th, 2016, Weekend Edition
Work:Life section, Page 12 Can You Spot The Next Leader? Succession Planning is a must in every office, yet many corporations refuse to take it seriously. Here's how you can use it to keep an organization running smoothly Succession planning is a strategic approach that ensures necessary talent and skills are available when needed, and that essential processes are maintained when employees in critical positions leave. One of the major concerns for any organization is to have a good succession planning as it ensures the organization will move in the right direction. However, many people, from the CEO to the lower level management, consider succession planning something of a 'taboo', as they fear the loss of power and authority. Moreover, many executives believe that leadership development is a job [for the Human Resources department alone. This is one of the major misconceptions that managers can have. The truth is that succession planning should happen at all levels of managements so that managers can ensure smooth functioning of the organization at all times. Here are some of the benefits of succession planning: It develops skills within the organization It aligns strategic goals and human resources to ensure that the "right people with the right attitude are in the right place at the right time" It helps in retaining and engaging employees while also helping them realize their career plans and aspirations within the organization It ensures that there are always qualified candidates ready to fill critical or key positions It provides stability which, in turn, sustains high-level performance It identifies workforce renewal needs as a means of targeting necessary employee training and development It improves employees' ability to respond to changing environmental demands It provides the opportunity for timely transfer of knowledge In the UAE, we have family-run businesses as well as medium and small enterprises, which continue to leave succession planning to chance despite knowing its importance. Succession planning consists of selecting a successor, which includes identifying the potential successors, developing the criteria for selection, communicating the decision, training the successor, developing the successor and defining the leader's role after succession, if any. These steps not be sequential and some can be performed simultaneously. However, failure to plan for orderly manpower succession can result in monetary losses, and in extreme cases, even closure of business. There are two important requirements for succession planning to be successful at the workplace. Firstly, The board, the directors, founder or CEO will have to spend time getting to know the rising stars, and gauge the efficacy of their leadership skills. Secondly, all senior managers and head of departments should share upcoming junior managers with other units. This way, rising future leaders will gain exposure to the company's operation and also experience how various units collaborate and execute strategies. Cross functional assignments also provide opportunities to master new business challenges. Succession planning can be proactive or reactive. A proactive one is when people move to different areas for experience and training before they occupy key positions. Reactive succession planning is when the organizations frantically search for appropriate candidates at the last second and end up either experiencing a steady attrition in talent, retaining people with outdated skills or promoting mediocre employees and ending up with low performance. To be realistic, succession must be planned years in advance of expected needs and not just as sudden crisis management. To properly train a successor, the organization needs sufficient time to expose the personnel to the full spectrum of opportunities within the firm. Skillfully done, it will bring peace of mind to those who want to lead their companies to success. A Five-Step Succession Planning Process 1. Identify Critical Positions Without identifying critical roles, the department or agency will be unable to effectively meet its business objectives. Workforce projection data or demographic analysis is essential in identifying risk areas. A risk assessment programme may also be used to identify future vacancies and critical positions within your organization. 2. Identify Competencies A clear understanding of skills required is essential for successful planning. This involves setting performance expectations. By completing the process of position profiling within your organization, current and future employees gain an understanding of the key responsibilities of the position and the qualifications required to perform them successfully. 3. Identify Strategies After identifying critical positions, the next step is to choose from a menu of several human resource strategies, including developing internal talent pools, onboarding and recruitment. 4. Document and Implement Action Plans Once strategies have been identified, the next step is to think of an action plan. Action plans include clearly defining timelines, roles and responsibilities. 5. Evaluate Effectiveness To ensure that the succession planning efforts are successful, it is important to monitor workforce data, evaluate activities and make necessary adjustments.