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News - When succession planning needs to be part of a company’s business plan from the word go

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When succession planning needs to be part of a company’s business plan from the word go

4th September 2014

As companies emerge from the recession and move towards recovery – or at least to a more stable position – many HR professionals are concerned about their talent pool and as such, how this impacts upon succession planning.

If there is no succession plan in place, how will the company fully develop and effectively grow its staff? How will it be able to guarantee a continuation of capable people to move up and take over when the current set of managers and senior decision makers either retire or move elsewhere? With these points in mind, succession planning probably warrants more time than the majority of companies actually devote to it.

And it shouldn’t only be for the succession path for the CEO. Virtually every key position and key person in an organisation is a candidate for a succession plan.

Succession planning helps to resolve problems

Sound succession planning will also highlight any potential cracks in the business that needs attention, including:-

  • Current talent management and training
  • Current level of employee engagement
  • Current levels of staff motivation and retention
  • Current levels of staff organisational knowledge and learning

Having the the answers to these questions will be the groundwork to initiating a sound succession ‘action plan’ which can fine tune the more detailed issues a company should ask like:-

  • Who are the key people you want to develop and take to a more senior level?
  • Where are these people now in the company? Is their current career trajectory the best way for them to move to that next level and so reach their career potential?

It’s difficult to think that there might be disadvantages to succession planning but here are some things to remember:-

  • Appointing the wrong person to a senior role could potentially lead to problems with an impact on company performance, which also effects brand reputation, which can then also negatively damage the bottom line.
  • A poor succession plan with senior appointments that happen too quickly can also impact negatively on staff and stakeholder morale.

A good succession planning initiative needs to work in synch with the medium and long-term business strategy, and needs to ensure that a company has the right talent and skill sets in place to meet the growth targets. It should not be a knee-jerk response but a long-term consideration. And whilst the plan is managed by the HR team, senior management needs to drive the message home to all members of staff about the meaning and importance of a business succession plan to ensure business continuity and their comprehension of it. Identifying the untapped the talents of a junior member of staff that, is a resource that cannot be underestimated. One day that junior member of staff could well be the next CEO!

Wood Group sets the standard for sound succession planning

Probably one of the best examples of succession planning in the energy sector has to be the approach taken by the Wood Group whom Creativedge has supported for over three years with our 90-minute, bite-size training programmes. This international energy services company employs about 40,000 people worldwide and operating in more than 50 countries. It prides itself on its “people power” stating “each of our employees has the opportunity to make a difference and our people’s successes drive our own.”

As such, the Wood Group has a firm foundation for really good succession planning because it plays a key part in the company’s broader employee engagement offer and is aligned to recruitment, training, development and performance review. Its succession plan will help to ensure a pool of well trained, experienced, and motivated staff who are ready and able to step into key positions as and when needed.

In our opinion, this is a company who really sets an example of best practise for succession planning.