Succession Planning in Senior Management

One of the most important factors of running a successful business is continuity, and those who play a crucial role in maintaining said continuity are usually the ones in leadership positions. Senior management personnel is the ones who keep the show going at large. Hence, when the time comes to replace an employee in senior management, Succession Planning and Management becomes very important.

The Need for Succession Planning

Human resources are dynamic; no person is going to stay in a job forever. There are retirements, resignations, deaths, or such other contingencies that render a position vacant. Finding the right person to fill it is of utmost importance to make sure that things continue on a smooth keel. Succession planning is even more important in senior management positions because of the experience, wisdom, and abilities that come with them.

When conducting a  succession planning exercise, it is important to keep the business strategy and objectives in mind. Likewise, having a list of competencies that go with the job is helpful; this makes the process of finding the right candidate and training him or her smoother.

A process of Succession Planning

There are a few steps involved in conducting succession planning for senior level management. This is a process that always begins with an identification of role requirements. Let’s take a look at how it goes –

  1. Identifying positions and roles that need to be handed over to another person.
  2. Identifying the capabilities and competencies that the role or position requires.
  3. Assessing potential replacements by their abilities, experience, and work done.
  4. Developing plans and strategies to train the replacement, and ensure proper knowledge transfer.
  5. Create proper succession plans and strategies.
  6. Evaluate and monitor.

The process of succession planning takes time and significant effort. The Human Resources department plays a very key role in this process.

Role of HR in Succession Planning

The HR department plays a pivotal role in ensuring a winning succession plan for senior management. For starters, they help identify potential replacement employees who will be a good fit for the job. Whether it is an internal or an external hire, HR teams play a key role to find the right employees.

Another process is the documentation of succession planning. The HR can prepare this documentation, avail feedback from senior management about its effectiveness, and then ensure that it is implemented.

Benefits of Succession Planning in Senior Management

As we go up the hierarchy of positions in an organization, the importance of succession planning increases. There are a lot of benefits to this process in terms of an organization’s working; usually, the companies that tend to succeed in the long term give a lot more importance to succession planning. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of this process.

  1. The biggest advantage of implementing a succession plan is that it minimizes risk. If a valuable senior management employee is suddenly lost or is unavailable, the organization should be in a position to replace him/her with a suitable candidate as soon as possible.
  2. Minimizing risks also means that the new candidate should take on the role quickly, without losing valuable time.
  3. It also saves the time and resources expended in recruiting candidates externally. Especially when it comes to senior management, it is pertinent to find internal replacements. This also ensures better functioning since the employee is familiar with the company operations.
  4. It also defines clear roles in the case of an emergency. When the successor and his/her responsibilities are defined, a lot of confusion, ambiguity, or discord over who has the immediate next right to leadership is saved.
  5. Succession planning to a great extent brings objectivity and fairness in the process of selecting and promoting people to senior level positions. This is because the criteria are clearly articulated, scientifically evaluated and well communicated. Succession planning provides an opportunity for high potential employees to grow into senior positions thereby enhancing their motivation and retention.

In Conclusion

The importance of succession planning cannot be denied. It is as important as any other business strategy to ensure that the running is smooth despite internal changes in senior management roles. The functioning and ultimate success of an organization rest in the hands of those who run and oversee the daily activities. Hence, finding the right person to take over is crucial.

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Dr. Soniya Yadwadkar

Dr. Soniya Yadwadkar

Dr. Soniya holds a Doctorate in Management Sciences and has over 22 years of professional experience in leading and implementing Strategic Business and People Management Initiatives in diverse industry segments. She is proficient in conceptualizing and implementing corporate level Strategic Business Management and HR OD initiatives such as Strategic planning, Balanced Score Card, Competency based HR Processes and Systems, Organizational Restructuring and Cultural Transformation, Post Merger HR Integration, Organization Development and Change Management.
Views expressed are of the author.
Dr. Soniya Yadwadkar

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