What is Succession Planning ?

Succession planning can be defined as the procedure of identifying potential leaders in an organization to fill important positions in the near future. It is important for any organizations to find the right people who will fill key positions. Organizations can be extremely selective when it comes to deciding on candidates for strategically significant and key positions with great power and responsibility. Hence, they adopt an elaborate and comprehensive system of selection, vetting, grooming and orientation. It is imperative that strategic positions in any organization are filled with people who have a clear idea of what the organization stands for and who have the organizational aims in mind as they pilot the company.

There is no single model of succession planning since organizations can be vastly different in terms of size and strategy. However, succession planning as a strategic exercise, concerns itself with only a few and significant positions to the depth of two or three levels of management. The modern approach towards succession planning takes into account the needs of the organization and the aspirations and desires of the employees to reach a plan that appeals to all concerned.

Organizations may expect the following from a succession planning exercise:- 

- Making the procedure of filling important strategic positions with candidates drawn from a wider pool allowing greater choice. 
- Ability to decide quickly on the ideal candidate. 
- Customized grooming and orientation of would-be successors by careful design of their work experiences, skills and abilities by proper training. 
- Creating a ‘talent pool’ in the organizations.

In the past it was felt that the process of succession planning should be kept confidential. However, modern succession planning procedures are transparent and internal jobs are increasingly advertised.

Some of the activities which come under succession planning are: 

- Identification of potential successors 
- Widening the ‘talent pool’ from which potential successors are drawn by analyzing more people. 
- Study of the gaps and surpluses which have been discovered by the process of planning. 
- Feedback on the actual exercise of selection and to verify if the selected individual has acquired the skills and qualities necessary.

A succession planning cannot function in isolation; it needs to be linked to other organizational process such as recruitment, training etc to be successful. The succession planning program needs constant inputs from the employee appraisal and assessment program to give a feed back on the status of the employee’s development. The succession planning must decide on the methods adopted for the cultivation of skills within the organization to meet requirements in the coming years. It also needs to finalize and implement development customized towards the requirement of every individual in the “talent pool”.

It is critical in any organization that the positions at the top are manned by people who are aware of the organizations values, nature and strategy. In this regard, succession planning plays a vital role in guaranteeing that the critical positions are filled by people who have a hands-on experience and feel of the organization who will use their knowledge and experience in tandem with the organization’s long term objectives and strategic goals.