Best practices in succession planning
Being a “helping hand” in the discipline of succession planning has brought many fulfilling professional rewards. I remember being the person primarily responsible for the succession planning of a leading bank, helping identify successor candidates, then assessing them and recommending development opportunities. The joy becomes from witnessing smooth transitions in leadership ensuring continuity and sustainability of business results.
Then again, as a consultant I was commissioned to review the leadership pipeline of a leading insurance company. It took almost a year to develop the succession map (that shows ready now and ready later) for critical positions. Then, change started to happen. It was clear that internal candidates may not be adequate to fill requirements, so an external search was pursued.
Today, a leading conglomerate has started with looking at critical positions in the holding company. The process is not easy as succession planning has to focus on “core competencies” for the strategic future and not just on the achievements in current posts. But gradually and surely the process moves on. In my own company, we have declared 2016 as the Successor Development Year, where people in current positions being prepared for the future. Candidates have undergone the SYMLOG Leadership Assessment and are now being coached by a seasoned and experienced business executive who has a track record of performance in our field.
Why do succession planning?
Succession planning is a need of all enterprises: conglomerates, large, medium, and small companies, non-profits, and government regular posts. One, is to ensure that mission critical positions continue to meet service and business goal. It is truly sad that in the executive branch of the government for example mission critical people become co-terminus with appointed executives. Succession planning ensures achievement of vision and mission.
Two, is to face the reality that many executives today belong to the “baby boomer” era and will not live forever. Meantime, right sizing or downsizing in the past decade has left a lean middle management that may result in fewer candidates. The mentors and coaches are few. The benefits of succession planning are clear. But the senior executives have to make time for it or it vanishes in the whirlwind of day-to-day execution.
What are the best practices that will ensure successful succession planning?
One, is to engage all relevant stakeholders. It means they have to buy into the process and are regularly updated on the results of assessment and development opportunities. Have the CEO and Board own and commit to the process.
Two, is to start with the identification and assessment of internal candidates for key and critical positions. These assume that the competencies for the key positions have been developed as primary criteria for selection. All candidates undergo assessment, preferably from a third party to ensure fairness.
Three, regular reviews. An annual check ensures an updated succession map and considers the changing external environment factors thereby aligning of business strategy
Four, use the pipeline approach. A number of industries have developed and trained talents at all levels in so called “leadership academies” ensuring a continuous pipeline of successors.
Fifth, assess candidates for competency, achievement and potential. They use a variety of means to assess candidates.
Sixth, commit to development spending time and resources to ensure successors likely to succeed.
Seven, follow the logical process of: identifying the mission critical positions, recognizing and developing the competencies of outstanding performers, committing to succession management strategies, developing and implementing the succession plans, and monitoring and evaluating results.
(Tita Datu Puangco is the CEO and President of Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, a major training and organization development company in the Philippines with an Asian reach. It specializes in enterprise transformation, executive coaching, corporate leadership and functional training, human resource systems, corporate academies, learning events and management of business training centers. Visit Tita’s Blog at https://titatalks
training.blogspot.com. For additional information please email author at tdpuangco
@ancillaedc.com.ph or at [email protected])