Succession planning focuses on identifying and growing talent to fill leadership and business-critical positions in the future. In the face of skills shortages, succession planning has gained popularity and is now carried out in both large and smaller organisations. This only happens after careful and well-developed plans of action have been followed. This ensures that the new leaders have all the knowledge and competencies necessary to fulfil their roles successfully.
While effective succession planning can help you achieve succession, there are still challenges to face. Employers frequently implement succession plans to ensure smooth role transitions within their organisations. When doing this they are faced with three primary challenges in implementing these plans:
- Identifying talented candidates for leadership succession
- Developing candidates to become suitable leadership successors
- Retaining leaders and succession candidates long enough to ensure that key positions will be successfully filled according to plan
These challenges would threaten to hamper the success of any succession plan implementation. It is more effective to focus on the developmental aspects of succession – as succession development. Shifting the focus to development enables employers to integrate succession planning practises with their greater talent development strategies.
Implementing a succession strategy becomes important in addressing two challenges to succession planning – qualifying and matching candidates. Qualified candidates should be highly engaged individuals that are willing to be considered as part of your succession pipeline. Matching candidates is important when a mentoring programme is implemented as part of the succession strategy.
This is especially important as you are developing the future leaders of your organisation. The mentors and mentees must be matched based on their current and potential leadership skills, as well as the development goals. Once a successful match has been made, the mentoring relationships can take place. Through these relationships, employees can position themselves for advancement. They will create a self-directed career development plan under the guidance of an experienced mentor.
This plan will lead them to the leadership role that has been defined by their organisation. The challenges of succession planning have their solutions in talent development. With a well-developed talent pool, employers can plan for success in succession.