Every organization deals with the dynamic of succession in leadership sooner or later. Whether it’s planned or ad hoc (fly by the seat of one’s pants), a decision is made when a leader position goes vacant and someone needs to step in and take the reins. Ideally, someone is ready to take on that role, but in many cases no such formal preparation exists. Instead, a leader suddenly goes out of commission, and an ad hoc selection process occurs which may pick the wrong person for the job. Then it becomes far more difficult to fix the issue and adjust for the right long-term leadership.
Problems We All Know
Lack of planning and candidate building continues to be the major primary step many organizations are missing. While the argument of not having enough time and resources to do the work has been quoted repeatedly, there are other factors as well. Control, for example, can be an obstacle where folks in leadership roles don’t want competition or heir-apparents. This protects their long-term hold of their current position.
Insufficient skill in planning is another key factor. Everyone is well aware leadership selections are very much influenced by networking, alliances, mentors and outright biases. But that doesn’t mean any of these factors automatically make good picks, and they can frequently null out otherwise good candidates. The point of succession planning is to build a stable of potential candidates. Specific selections can still occur, but it’s a much better situation to have five possible leaders than no leader and then picking someone just because she’s the most loyal may be horribly inexperienced.
Planning Support Tools That Work
Having a succession committee built into an organization is a key step in helping construct and maintain a succession ladder for future candidates. A permanent function with dedicated role players can maintain the process from one leadership team to the next, ensuring there is continuity of effort. Without a separate group ushering the process and supporting it, successions efforts are born and die as soon as the leader that started it goes away.
A number of tools now exist that were not in the market a few years ago that are specifically geared towards helping identify succession candidates. These software tools allow for the collection and combination of an employee’s information that give reviewers the ability to see where a person has been and where they should be going in terms of development tracks and future promotion. Some are more expensive than others, but having some kind of tracking mechanism goes a long way in building a system that consistently produces candidate portfolios for quick review.
Of course the above are only support resources. The real magic in succession planning happens in know-how and that comes with training.
Succession planning training is not a sit-down class approach. It's a consultative approach that goes through the dynamics of an organization, planning out the timing of when leadership is going to need replacement, and then how to go about building a succession ladder process so that there is a stable of candidates ready when needed for promotion. This kind of training involves crafting a succession policy for an organization with the leadership team present so that the same steps and training can then be passed on repeatedly to the successor team and so on.
The second kind of training needed is how to go about leveraging the personnel knowledge assets in the organization and data mine them effectively to identify up-and-coming stars for promotion candidates. Most company leaders fall back on personal opinion, but this doesn't necessarily build a pool of candidates. It simply becomes a popularity contest of who wants to nominate their individual person. Instead, a data mining leverage approach uses objective resources such as training records and performance ratings to identify top employees. Then, from that population, various sponsors can nominate and recommend their person. This approach ensures that, no matter who is sponsored or recommended, they all have met minimum qualifications a replacement leader has to have to protect the company and keep it moving forward.
Getting the Right Help
Applied succession planning many times is a multi-layered approach when put together right. And there is no default methods that works for every organization. This is why working with experts like those at ICS is such an advantage for an organization. ICS is a staffing firm with 4 Practice areas; Information Technology, Accounting & Finance, Corporate Support and Compliance & Legal. They specialize in Information Technology, Accounting & Finance, Corporate Support and Compliance & Legal. Whether you are a candidate or a client, what makes ICS a leader and ground-breaker in recruiting is that they rely on collaboration, not automation. Connect online for more information and find out how ICS can provide key succession planning support for your future leadership and success.