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Examination and Proctoring | 10 Min Read

All You Need to Know About Succession Planning

What is Succession Planning?

Succession Planning is the systematic process to recognize and create future leaders who can replace current leaders immediately when they leave the organization. Retirement, resignation, termination, transfer, promotion, or death could be the reasons for the succession.

It’s one of the modern organizational planning techniques that focuses on identifying the best prospects among the employees. The suitable fit is promoted to become a successor for the key position as and when the job role is vacated.


The Need for Succession Planning

Succession Planning is intrinsic to Human Resource Planning. It acknowledges the uncertainty of employees’ association with the organization in the future. Hence, large and high-performing organizations have succession planning in place to avert such undesired situations. The succession plan also analyzes the available vacancies for the suitable position when an employee exits the company. An employee’s departure from the company generally affects the business areas, job requirements, and the required skills of the existing incumbents.


The Benefits of Succession Management

0_Identification of Future LeadersIdentification of Future Leaders

Succession planning is an essential means of discovering employees with the requisite skills and the potential to develop skills. It prepares organizations to succeed senior executives and helps to identify underlying areas of performance where employees are weak and require training. The training helps in managing and improving the performance of potential employees who can be a suitable fit for the vacant job role.

0_Saves Financial ResourcesSaves Financial Resources

Effective Succession Planning strategies play a crucial role in overall employee performance management. It not only ensures that key positions remain occupied with skilled performers but also saves money on external recruitment and training. Hiring employees for key business positions externally may be much dearer than promoting potential employees from within the organization.

0_Beyond TrainingBeyond Training

Succession planning is beyond training, as it includes the evaluation of employees’ strengths and vulnerabilities within an organization. While training is a tool that equips employees with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to prepare them for future vacancies, it is the initial assessment of possible weaknesses among the potential candidates that can impact performance management.

For instance, a company is vulnerable if it loses a competent salesperson without anyone in line to step into that role. Such types of vulnerabilities can be identified early, and organizations can evaluate areas that may be at risk. They can also take steps to identify and train internal successors.

0_Competency GapsCompetency Gaps

The succession plan identifies the competency gaps, in advance, between what employees need to know and their current knowledge. The gaps are based on the employee’s existing needs for key positions, and the skills required. They may also rely on new competencies that may arise in the future for suitable job roles.

Hence, you must focus on the strategic consideration of these needs. It will ensure that companies remain consistently productive and perform in the event of a vacancy in a key area.

0_Maintains Brand IdentityMaintains Brand Identity

We have seen various top management executives and CEOs, recruited from outside, for the company with high expectations and promises, only to fail in a short time. Such hires often damage the company’s reputation and long-term growth. It usually happens as the outsider CEO does not understand the company’s fundamental values and mission. The senior management moves the organization from its core brand as it is often unable to grasp the customer needs.


Let's Look at the Three Most Significant Challenges of Succession Planning

0_Choosing who to promoteChoosing who to promote

While some employees may be experts at specific levels or positions, it does not mean they possess the required skills and knowledge to get ahead in the organizational hierarchy.

There is always an obligation to reward the loyal and hard-working employee with a promotion. No employer wishes to hurt the feelings of employees by promoting one person over the other. However, it is possible to put the right person in the role without overlooking other candidates with careful strategic succession planning.

What’s the Solution?

You need to identify potential candidates in the succession planning process proactively and arrange appropriate learning and development courses.

0_Combating BiasCombating Bias

It is a natural tendency among people to find comfort in familiarity. Organizations, too, have a similar case. Recruitment managers and executives are no different. The probability of hiring someone that fits a particular stereotype can override logical, skill-based thought processes in some companies. Some managers do not consider the competencies defined for a key business position to hire potential successors and make biased decisions.

It is necessary to plan to identify traits required for a potential replacement. Candidates with skills best suited to the job – beyond their age, gender, and background- should be hired.

0_Maintaining company moraleMaintaining Company Morale

Succession planning can adversely impact the company’s morale. There is a sense of fear among employees about the redundancy of work or retirement. People are not comfortable in sharing their views on job satisfaction, company culture, and other concerns. Such an insecure work environment impedes open discussion and threatens the essence of succession planning in organizations. Transparent Succession planning can be useful for organizations. There should be an open discussion on who’s taking the reins next.


Five Steps to the Process of Succession Planning

0_5 Steps to the process of Succession Planning

Uncover Key Business Areas and Positions

Learning and Development Manager needs to identify relevant business positions and areas vital to business operational activities and strategic objectives. Succession planning is crafted in such a way that business operations and goals are not hampered. Essential business positions that may get vacant in the future should be identified in advance; the reason being the suitable successor can be appointed as and when there are vacant positions in the organization.

Determining Skill-Set for Key Business Areas and Positions

You need to ascertain the competencies required for essential business areas and positions. The objective is to build the selection criteria, set performance standards, and plug the gap between the successor’s current and the expected knowledge. It is done through an effective training and development process.

The training and development program identifies potential employee’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and the expertise required to attain business goals.

Discover the Prospective Candidates and Evaluate Them as Per the Competencies

The next step is to identify employees who are willing and proficient in taking up key business positions after working on the competencies needed for significant job roles. One-on-one discussion with potential employees is held by Human Resource managers to discuss future career plans and interests. Some companies also take Psychometric or a 360-degree feedback assessment of employees to find out the key competencies required for a business position.

You can also look for potential replacements that can substitute the old resources and can be trained and developed for future contingencies.

Develop and Execute Succession Strategies

You need to develop and implement succession strategies after identifying the potential replacements for key business positions. The succession plan can revolve around training, learning, development, knowledge transfer, and experience sharing with employees.

Evaluate Effectiveness

The most significant step in Succession Planning and management is assessing its effectiveness. You need to ensure that all key managerial positions are covered under the succession planning. Also, in case of any sudden requirement of vacancies in the future, essential job roles can be filled without delays. The organizations look forward to appointing successors who are skilled, capable, and effective.


How Organizations Are Conducting Succession Planning

Identify Key Positions for Which a Succession Plan Is Necessary

The companies may have a couple of key business positions or several other vacant positions in place to hire a suitable candidate. The top managerial positions, such as Chief staff officer, Vice-president are some of the key business positions that are included in the succession plan.

Several points are considered by L and D managers before deciding which other business positions to include:

  • Whether the business role is critical to the success of the organization or if the person in this role suddenly exits or is unavailable. You also need to see if the organization is at risk if the position goes vacant.
  • Whether the decision to consider a potential employee for a non-significant business position is a logical step. Most organizations focus on senior managers or supervisors as the second level for succession management. The first level is always the CEO.
  • Whether the person serving the business position currently has a good deal of knowledge about processes or other institutional memory.

Finding Out the Successor or Successors

Another step in the succession planning management is identifying the suitable successor or successors. HR managers may consider more than one employee if they have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, potential, and willingness to go the extra mile besides their core responsibilities. A separate selection panel is aligned by the management team to shortlist potential successors. They look for candidates who commit to conducting the business process effectively and have the required competencies to become a successor for the key position.

Identification of Job Requirement

This step is all about understanding the job requirements within one or more key positions in the future. HR managers generally create an inventory of skills and attributes that serve as a checklist to audit the succession candidate. They see what skills are possessed by the successor presently and what needs to be developed.

Once the job requirements for the critical position are identified, the competencies for current and future organizational needs are built. Succession Planning is generally about “what is next” instead of “who is next.” One set of competencies, such as knowledge, skills, and abilities, are built for the candidates who want to lead the departing positions.

Apart from that, a different development plan is created for each succession candidate. The Learning and development manager discusses the career plans and interests with the competing employees in the development plan. Also, the crucial areas and positions that are vulnerable, and the candidates who are ready to advance are spotted. Also, the manager makes efforts to identify skills and competencies that can be developed within the required time frame.

Assessment of Progress

The final step is to assess the progress towards the intended outcome after you have created a development plan to hire the succeeding candidates. Succession planning and management efforts are monitored and evaluated after investing in the training and development of employees effectively.

Learning and Development team takes care of the following points:

  • Key business positions are filled quickly
  • Succession plans for key job roles are developed
  • New employees in relevant business positions perform effectively
  • Members of designated groups are represented in feeder groups for vital positions adequately

Mercer | Mettl has a range of tools and assessments that can help you in evaluating employees’ performance on critical competencies. The skills required for key business positions are essential to succeed in the job role. Assessment results are benchmarked to identify vital employees in the succession development plan.

Some of the assessment tests offered by Mercer | Mettl to shortlist the suitable successor are listed below:

0_Pre Built Tests
Pre Built Tests
: Ready assessments are mapped to pre-defined competencies of employees that are relevant to specific roles or functions. After that, the competencies are identified based on extensive primary and secondary research.

0_Custom Assessment BatteryCustom Assessment Battery: It has customized assessments for a specific role in an organization’s competency framework. It is built with a blend of tools such as Personality, Behavior, Cognitive and Domain Skills.

0_Blended or Virtual AC-DC
Blended or Virtual AC/DC
– Mettl has a blend of virtual and offline tools that provides a high degree of reliability for each required competency. Apart from that, individual development plans are included in reports.


How Mercer | Mettl Can Help?

Mercer | Mettl can help you plan Succession Planning in the following way:

0_How Mercer - Mettl can help-

Identify: Mercer defines key competencies required to succeed in critical roles and nominate candidates.

Assess: Use reliable & valid tools such as Psychometric, Aptitude Assessment, Assessment and Development Centers, and 360 Degree Feedback to evaluate candidate readiness on key competencies.

Plan: Use customized reports to handpick the right candidates for succession.

Act: Develop & track the growth of selected candidates.

Originally published February 24 2020, Updated June 23 2020


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