Succession planning is the process of passing important leadership roles to the next generation of members in an organization. Proper succession planning allows for the smooth transfer of responsibilities and tasks from existing members to the succeeding group. A succession plan is put in place to avoid scrambling before an annual meeting, trying to get a warm body in a seat at the board table. Different approaches as to how an organization can best transfer the required skills and knowledge to its upcoming members can be used; no single approach works for everyone.
Succession planning focuses on the jobs that are most crucial to the operations of the organization, and outlines how roles and responsibilities are to be handed down to the most qualified individuals. Often times, the individuals who take over lead roles do not have the same experience and knowledge that the current person in the position does, so succession planning helps to identify these gaps, and aid in the development of these successors.
Succession planning is a serious undertaking for organizations. It helps as transitions occur in both the leadership of the group, as well as the culture that surrounds the operation. When management decides to implement a succession plan, a signal is sent to all other employees that the issue of replacements has been considered and that management is taking a proactive approach to continue to meet the objectives of the organization. Succession planning is a good indicator to internal and external stakeholders that the organization is planning ahead, and contributing financial and human capital today to ensure success in the future.
In summary, why have a succession plan?
- To support the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic goals and priorities
- Ensure the continued effective performance of the organization by planning and supporting the development and replacement of key people and positions over time
- Show strength in organizations future by contributing investment in training its future leaders