Leadership Development Through Succession Planning
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Leadership Development Through Succession Planning

Abstract: What is succession planning? Every company goes through personnel changes over time. Companies invest lots of money in employee training. It only makes sense to develop a plan to keep the talent the company spent so much money training. Succession planning is the process of identifying and training lower level employees for potential future leadership roles. This type of planning encourages employees to stay with the company by providing potential advancement opportunities and career development. A good succession plan involves leadership development, workforce planning, program planning, and succession management.

What is Succession Planning?

Over time, every organization will see its leaders advance their careers, move on to other organizations, or work until they retire. As these people move on, they leave voids that must be filled in order for the organization to work efficiently. To meet these needs, companies need to use succession planning strategies. This ongoing planning process involves identifying and developing leaders within organizations for future leadership roles. More specifically, succession planning involves an ongoing evaluation of the company’s “strategic plan”, understanding the “current workforce”, identifying possible “future trends”, and planning for overall employee development (Atwood, 2007). These activities are aimed at filling positions of leaders who depart from the company.  It makes sense to look within the company for leaders who will one day fill more advanced leadership positions. For example, in order to timely fill a leadership position, seeking existing employees as potential leaders allows the company to choose someone already familiar with the company structure and purpose. These people are already familiar with the inner workings of a company and would potentially be a better fit than someone hired who has no understanding of the company workings. It will potentially make the transition much smoother. In addition, succession planning can be used as a tool to keep turnover rates low. For example, if employees understand that they have the chance to develop their skills with the hopes of one day moving into a more advanced leadership role, they will more likely stay in the company. Furthermore, they will be a happier employee because they will feel like they are more important to the company and thus have a greater sense of purpose. This alone will improve their productivity within the organization. Overall, succession planning can help reduce the need for hiring activities especially for leadership positions. For example, consistently looking with the company for potential leaders can allow the company to save money in searching for potential new employees from outside sources.

How Succession Planning can be Used

Succession planning can be a very effective method for filling leadership positions when they become vacant. In the company, succession planning can naturally overlap performance appraisal processes. For example, managers can identify employees who may potentially fill leadership roles. During the performance appraisal process, managers can even create employee development plans that can be used in succession planning. Within the employee development plan, managers can create specific activities and training programs. These programs can be designed to empower the employee to develop skills for their current job and in preparation for possible advancement into higher leadership positions.

Succession Planning Components

As I mentioned earlier, succession planning needs to involve some specific core components including: evaluation of the company’s “strategic plan”, understanding the “current workforce”, identifying possible “future trends”, and planning for overall employee development (Atwood, 2007). In addition, developing an effective succession planning process depends on adhering to some specific core concepts. For example, just as in developing a successful performance appraisal process, it is critical for the management to fully support and emphasize the importance of succession plans to all employees. The process needs to be ongoing and consistently logically structured. An understanding of specific company direction, the types of skills needed and specific employee capital is necessary in developing a succession plan. In addition, a variety of managers from all levels of the company need to be involved in coordinating the development of such a plan. This helps in developing the greatest understanding of the organizations needs. Furthermore, the performance appraisal system can be used in identifying specific employees for future leadership opportunities. The appraisal process can also be used to identify specific skills the employees will need to develop for their future leadership positions. It’s also important to make the plan simple enough that it will be easy to follow. This will help ensure the planning is efficiently implemented in an ongoing fashion. As with the performance appraisal systems, open consistent communication between managers and employees is critical. Specifically, the succession planning process needs to include individual responsibility, analysis of progress, and ongoing feedback between management and employees in order to be effective. As mentioned earlier, the succession planning process has a lot in common with the performance appraisal process. That’s why I believe they can both overlap one another and be used together. This will encourage efficiency and cut down on process costs.

Organizing a Succession Plan

With the core concepts and core components in mind, there are several steps in organizing the succession plan (Atwood, 2007). First, preparing to conduct the assessments includes selecting the team to conduct the assessments and making sure to understand the company direction. Second, the team will conduct the assessments making sure to correctly identify and record information for each employee. Third, the succession team will develop profiles for the employees. In this stage, the information obtained by managers will be used to identify which employees would potentially be able to fill future leadership roles. A list of current skills needs to be created. Fourth, the assessment team will design a plan for helping employees develop specific skills they need to add to their current skills. Fifth, the employee skill development plan will be implemented. Over time, the managers will record information about employee development. Sixth, the assessment team will evaluate how the plan is working. The team will determine what needs to be changed if anything as well as what is working correctly. Employee development will be evaluated. In addition, managers can make any necessary modifications to the employee skill development plans needed to ensure employee development.

Works Cited

Atwood, C. G. (2007). Succession Planning Basics. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from Books24x7: http://common.books24x7.com/book/id_23495/book.asp.

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