For any organisation, succession management should always be part of the broader strategic thinking. While immediate success is important for the ongoing operations, true survivability will depend upon sustaining the success through developing a long-term succession plan. Such a plan will allow the organisation to enhance its adaptability in today's dynamic market.
From a general standpoint, adaptability is a reference to the extent to which an organisation or a group of collaborating organisations can adjust its structure and business processes and successfully achieve its goals, in accordance with the characteristics of dynamic environments. This process can be called improvisation.
Then comes succession management. This is often a part of the broader policy of any organisation. It refers to the process of selecting and developing new leaders to take over when current leaders leave, retire, or pass away. This is the process of identifying essential responsibilities in a firm, as well as the core abilities required for those roles, and then finding internal candidates who can fill those roles when the incumbents leave.
Organisations use succession management plans to ensure that the correct people are hired and trained to fill each essential role. Through the succession management process, superior employees are recruited, their knowledge, skills, and abilities are developed, and they are prepared for advancement or promotion into ever more challenging roles.
When succession management is actively pursued, employees are regularly developed to fill each targeted job, new responsibilities as a company grows, loses important personnel, offers promotions, or increases sales. Adaptability can be increased by proper succession management as it allows an organisation to have the next generations of leaders available at its disposal. Fundamental to the succession-management process is an underlying philosophy that argues that top talent in the corporation must be managed for the greater good of the enterprise.
There are two fundamental concepts underpinning succession management. The first concept is to locate a successor to someone who is performing a critical task or job so that the task can continue even if that person leaves the organisation or changes job. The second concept is that of growth. What should the successor (or numerous potential successors) be learning today in order to be prepared to take over when the time comes?
Succession management has come of age over the past decade, driven by increased global competition, intense corporate governance requirements, and dramatic changes impacting workforce demographics and mobility. Succession initiatives have evolved from narrow programmes that only identify talent ready to fill top executive roles into comprehensive management systems that forecast talent gaps, predict domino effects if one person leaves, and are linked to extensive development initiatives.
Succession management is also related to retention. A succession management programme tied to development can give the organisation the opportunity to exhibit leadership, earn trust, and engage employees. The succession strategy should be communicated properly and transparently with the workforce. This helps to ease doubts in the employees' minds about their career paths and provide them with a sense of anticipation about their future. Employees have a reason to be engaged if they have a stake in the future of the business.
Successful succession management must be comprehensive and integrated with the overall talent strategy. This can reduce the risk of sudden, unexpected turnover. Broadening participation in succession management shows the employees that they have a future in the organisation, a path to get there, and a reason to stay with the company and give their best. Employees know what is in it for them, and they value the ability to take charge of their own careers.
Imran Ahmed is a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering from Dhaka University. He is currently the managing director of Metatude Asia Ltd., an Amsterdam-based software development company