Am I Next?
Here are some insights on succession planning by Diane Bogino.
A succession-planning program can be flexible enough to work for both large and small companies as well as helping alleviate recruiting, retention and incentive concerns.
Succession-planning can provide positive elements for strategic planning and organizational development. With a succession plan in place the organization is more likely to better manage diversity, shorten learning curves for promotions and add to the organization’s potential for growth and profitability. Is succession planning a miracle cure? Not exactly.
Succession planning can serve as its own guard against its shortcomings; however, cracks in the system are mostly due to the human factor. Politics is a favorite game, even at work. Those known to be politically astute may kick a co-worker down a few rungs on the ladder of success and grab the next rung on the ladder for themselves.
Large companies are more likely to have a succession plan and a complex internal structure. The more complex the organization’s internal structure is, the higher the cost of the grooming process and a wrong selection is even more expensive.
Succession Planning Left Coca-Cola With A Bad Taste. When Coke’s Roberto Goizueta became ill with cancer. Doug Ivester was groomed for the helm. Without Goizueta, Ivester became half a leader. Ivester had great number-crunching capabilities; however, people-skills and leadership-skills were lacking. Two incidents led to his downfall. Consumers in Belgium became ill from drinking Coke. Ivester didn’t visit Belgium in a timely manner and was insensitive to the scope of the debacle. Secondly, Mr. Ivester’s failure to deal with anti-American sentiment when Coke attempted to merge with a French company helped speed his demise.
Recently an HR executive, who does have a succession plan in place, revealed a dilemma looms. Out of seven sales professionals, five are retiring. The company has no in-house prospects. The two scenarios mentioned create obvious issues – here’s another.
The organization may offer an employee a position. However, for personal reasons the offer is refused. This begs the question, what the reaction will be on the person chosen as second best? Moreover, does this force the company to conduct an outside search?
Succession planning cannot solve all organizational problems. As with any system, other influences can detract from positive results. Anytime the human element, time, expenses, and the inevitable changes that occur in life and business are involved, there are no guarantees.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water. Succession planning is a good tool. As with every tool, use it wisely and with safety precautions in place.