Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new leaders to succeed current leaders. While organisations realise that succession planning is an important priority, few manage to execute it well.
Why succession planning matters and why it’s hard
The potential gains from succession planning go far beyond the obvious result of having a steady pipeline of leaders ready to step into new roles:
We have compiled four practical ideas on how you can get more impact from your company’s succession planning efforts:
1. Change the name of the process from Succession Planning to Succession Development
Plans do not develop anyone! More companies put too much effort and attention into the planning process than they do into the development process. Succession planning processes can have lots of ‘to-do’s; such as forms, charts, meetings, due dates and checklists. They can create a false sense that the planning process is an end in itself rather than to real development. The focus should be on succession development, not the planning.
2. Measure outcomes, not process
This is important for several reasons. Firstly, managers pay attention to what gets measured and what gets rewarded. If leadership development is not enough of a priority for the company to establish goals and track progress against those goals, it will be difficult to make any succession planning process work. And secondly, engaging with senior managers to establish these goals will build support for succession planning and ownership for leadership development.
3. Keep it simple
Sometimes companies will implement complex assessment criteria to the succession planning process in an effort to improve the quality of the assessment. Since the planning process is only a prefix to the development, it doesn’t need to be perfect. More sophisticated assessments should be built into the development process and administered by a competent coaching company.
4. Stay realistic
While development plans and succession charts aren’t set in stone, they can often be communicated as such and this can lead to frustration. Only give the promise of succession if there is a realistic chance of it happening!
At JPD we believe these four suggestions above can help shift your company’s focus from planning to development. We are here to help with all your coaching needs to turn managers into emerging leaders.