Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees who are prepared to assume these roles as they become available.
Lately, Succession planning has gained more importance in Indian Corporate sector due to polarization of business opportunities in promising and emerging markets. Executive coaching is one of the ways to encourage or boost succession planning – in order to build talent and leadership within the organization. More often and in most Indian organizations, the effort is to develop leadership internally and not look for leaders from outside through external hire.
The reasons could be many : why not continue to deal with top management you are already familiar with? Other reasons are to reduce the gestation period between business planning and actual implementation of the plan; controlling the cost factor by doing more with less; ensuring reliability and/or sustainability of actions taken, in order to earn better returns on investment with available Human resource. So, how do we get better impact of succession planning efforts on the bottom line through profits?
1. Let us rename Succession planning as Succession development – Quite often, I have realized that there is a lot of gap between planning and implementation. If all plans work on their own, then we need not work the same plans with repetitive meticulous efforts. Planners sometimes create a false sense that the planning process is an end in itself rather than a precursor to real development. Leadership development is through practical experiences and not through plans. It is essential to engage in fruitful Executive coaching assignments well in advance and much prior to actual transition of leadership roles.
2. Rely on the outcomes and not on the Process – Is the plan measurable or quantifiable? I would recommend conducting pilot runs of new responsibilities on successors that are quantifiable and rewarding. Such adopted practice will support efforts on succession planning because you can visualize future outcomes based on outcomes realized in the pilot run.
3. Make it simple – There is no need to focus heavily on business plans that generate too many charts and tables. Why not give the successor a definite period and list down the business expectations to be realized? By making it simple, the chances of success are brighter besides they being flexible in mode of operation or action. A competent Executive coach can follow through if the results or outcomes are not as expected at the start of pilot run.
4. Stay focused on the reality aspect – Reality-based leadership is always effective and ‘real’ – everything else is only statistics that are not eventually achieved. More often, plans get lost in long leather bound reports, tables, statistics and un-realistic expectations. By expecting the moon out of the successor you are not heading anywhere! In fact, it is more likely to be confusing to the successor and the plans will not get implemented at all.
Succession planning is a critical process that cannot be ignored. But, please do not make it very complex without sticking to reality and to what is available with the successor in terms of his strengths and abilities. Instead, Go ahead and identify the key roles that will make succession planning effective and achievable.