Recently I saw a piece on Workforce.com (a wonderful site, IMHO) on “succession planning.” It was a thorough and well-thought out piece by Patricia Duarte that outlined the traditional definition and aspects of a succession planning process. It stated, “Succession planning is a systematic approach to professional development with the express purpose of ensuring that selected (typically senior) staff is trained, experienced and ready to assume future leadership positions. Succession planning also focuses on individual and team transition needs and effectively guides implementation.”
It went on to detail some of the phases of succession planning, and I’ll paraphrase them here:
- Identify anticipated vacancies and resources for management and leadership.
- Redefine management profiles to include competencies, success criteria and behavior traits.
- Accurately assess the readiness of senior staff and middle managers to assume greater responsibilities.
- Assess organizational culture and the leaders within.
- Develop individualized training, development and mentoring opportunities to reduce gaps in skills and experience.
- Focus on individual and team transition to ensure a successful transition and performance in the new or expanded roles.
Respectfully, Patricia may have defined “succession planning” but far more important today is “succession management”. This includes all the reactive (to the current situation) steps that Patricia ably outlines and goes further. Succession management includes determining what are the positions that do not yet exist that organizations need to prepare to fill. It’s been said that the jobs that students entering high school today will fill when they enter the workforce have not yet been invented. In that vein, we need to prepare staff at all levels, not just the managers, for the jobs they will need to be doing in the near future.
Succession management includes providing the support new managers need as they assume their role. We all know that too many people are promoted to managerial positions for their technical, not managerial, expertise. To ensure their success we need to see that their training continues after they are in the position so that we can continue to monitor and manage their succession through the organization.
At least that’s how I see it. How about you?
Only the best,