Those of us who follow the Talent Management investment curves, know that Performance Management and Succession Planning are the hot trends right now. Companies are attempting to leverage their workforce as a competitive advantage and both of these areas had technology innovations in recent years.
Of course, as is often the case with trends, there are companies that have a plan first and leverage technology to solve it, and there are companies who start with a solution and attempt to figure out the problem.
This leads to many wanting to call into question the whole idea. Laurie is absolutely right that succession planning has some challenges and she gives some ideas how to make it an effective use of your time (my paraphrase).
Personally, I think that the point of succession planning is really not for succession at all. Most often C-suite changes are made when a company needs to “fix” something. When this is the case, companies will most likely want to look outside the four walls for new ideas.
Succession planning is useful in the case of a long known retirement (Gates, Welch, etc.). Of course, planned retirement-based successions are often exceptions, especially in North America. In an attempt to avoid having people throw out the baby with the bathwater I would like to suggest that you still need succession planning for two key reasons
- Emergencies – in the unfortunate situation that something unexpected were to happen, having a well established succession plan can help avoid additional disruption in the short term. An excellent example has been given of Brokaw stepping in to fill the shoes of Tim Russert during the election .
- Developing bench strength – In my mind, here is where the real value can be had. If you look at your succession initiative as a broader discussion about bench strength and development alignment, you can get a lot bigger ROI for the exercise. Using a succession discussion to analyze several layers of your organization against readiness, can help you build development plans, define workforce planning initiatives and bring to light top talent within your organization.
So for those who wonder what all the hype is in succession planning, I encourage you to take a longer view of the process than just the tactical (or the competitive) approach. Use this emerging trend to help you to provide more value to the strategic needs of the company. Don’t just plan for succession, plan for success.