Succession planning is not simply replacement planning. Replacement planning suggests that an organisation simply identifies one or two potential individuals who can work as a backup, for a temporary period, in a role, until someone appropriate is found. Replacement planning assumes that the organisational structure will remain unchanged over time. Succession planning, in contrast, focuses on developing people rather than merely naming them as replacements. Succession planning should be highly strategic. Consider the plan as long-term organisational change.
Below are 10 steps to follow in order to create and maintain a systematic succession plan.
Before implementing any change, ensure that your succession plan is supported by those individuals who are responsible for succession planning. A lack of buy-in will ultimately lead to failure.
- Develop a precise definitions of and agreement about key concepts
Make sure that key concepts such as potential and performance are understood and agreed upon so that during the process, the same language can be spoken without confusion.
- Develop a Competency Framework
A Competency Framework is a key tool that defines the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed for people within an organisation. Each individual role will have its own set of competencies needed to perform the job effectively. Having this in place, will make the assessment of each individual against certain criteria much easier and objective.
Get individualised ratings of individuals from many different sources for a holistic view of an individual’s strengths and areas for development. Do not simply depend on one manager’s perspective. This is too prone to bias.
- Put a strategic Performance Management process into place
If your organisation has comprehensive Performance Management system is place, it allows for more accurate data analytics to be used during strategic talent reviews.
- Do not only focus on performance
Too often, organisations solely use past performance data. The problem with this is that individuals might be able to perform well in other roles, and this is not considered. So too may past performance be due to external factors that are irrelevant to a new role. Thus assessing potential is hugely advantageous. Performance focuses on the past; potential focuses on the future.
- Implement an organisational learning plan
Once potential and performance is assessed, it is not beneficial to only train and develop staff once they have been identified as potential successors. Rather view all staff as potential successors. Continual development will provide for a more strategic long-term plan and will increase an organisation’s talent pool in the process. One way of achieving this is making Personal Development Plans compulsory for each individual. However, always remember to continually monitor progress.
A common and effective way of differentiating talent is to use a tool such as the Nine-box Talent Grid. Once your talent is visible it is much easier to make effective decisions. One thing to note however is to continually reassess the talent pool for changes or additions.
- Create an accountability framework
It is key that individuals know what they are accountable for, be it the actual succession planning process, identifying talent or developing talent. This will create a system that is more efficient with each individual having clear objectives.
Always ensure the results of your succession planning are understood and documented. Knowing potential downfalls of your plan will enable clear changes to be made in the future.