Companies must start to take succession planning seriously

first_img Previous Article Next Article Companies must start to take succession planning seriouslyOn 29 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today With a growing number of organisations having to handle the loss of seniormanagers at short notice, it’s clear HR must take the development of themanagers of the future very seriouslyWhile it is widely recognised that leadership is vitally important tocompanies at all levels, many organisations fail to plan for continuity in thisarea. A number of organisations have had to handle the recent loss of seniormanagers at short notice. Those in the headlines include Amey, which lost itsnew finance director after just 36 days in the job; HP Bulmer, which lost bothits chief executive and FD following accounting irregularities; the Bank ofEngland, which took a long time to replace David Clementi; and JJB Sports,which has suffered the tragic death of chief executive Duncan Sharpe. With the war for talent continuing, and people moving jobs more often, therisk of managerial loss is getting more severe. A recent survey by DDI identified the top concern of international senior HRspecialists as “a terrifying gap between the experience levels ofexecutives and their prospective successors” (see’sarchives). Where do companies go wrong? In the first case, many organisations aresimply not good enough at assessing and identifying the potential of theirstaff for future leadership roles. This is compounded by a lack of development of managers – especially thosewho are not as positive in pushing themselves forward for promotion. Even those who have good assessment techniques then fail to co-ordinatetheir work across the organisation. They often just set up function orcountrywide ‘talent pools’, which are not shared with other parts of thecompany. Companies need to start taking succession planning seriously. It needs to bemade a key business responsibility that both HR departments and managers takeseriously at all levels. The first key step to take is to demystify the whole process of promotion –the company needs to communicate what is needed in managers and leaders, andactively promote the benefits of achieving leadership positions. This may be more difficult than it sounds. Equally, many companies havesuffered from a failure to recruit a diverse enough pool of talent to producesuitable managers as market conditions change. Once an individual is agreed to be of high potential, they need to be addedto a centrally managed ‘talent pool’. All managers need to be regularlyassessed to see if they should be in the pool, and those identified as key tothe future of the company need to be developed strongly – they also need to betold that they are seen as managers of the future. Improvements to work-life balance practices can be effective in increasingthe number of potential senior managers – especially female managers. Companies cannot rely solely on internal succession in a crisis though –moving people around will only serve to create ‘holes’ in other parts of theorganisation, and there needs to be a series of external options. An external talent pool is much more difficult to operate than an internalone, but should include people who have recently retired or moved to anothercompany and could be brought back, and admired industry experts andcompetitors. It should even include people who were considered for a particularrole but eventually lost out. Also, the employer should develop relationships with interim managementspecialists in advance of any need – enabling them to understand the nature ofthe corporate culture rather than having to start from scratch once someone hasleft. HR professionals need to be managing this process. Hugh Flouch Managing director of organisational consulting, RightCoutts Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more