Planning for success

Planning for success

Launching Leaders

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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Simply put, succession planning is a reference to the words in the phrase, for to be successful in sustaining an organisation's progress and development, planning and a streamlined execution process must be in place.
Definition: The process by which individuals are evaluated and prepared for leadership roles in an organisation. The sad reality though is that many companies talk about it but really have no clear plan of action. It might be a managers' meeting conversation about particular employees who have leadership potential, but post-meeting nothing but radio silence. So how do organisations formalise passing the baton and creating an environment for team members to aspire to leadership positions?

May The Best Candidate Win

A company's leadership will send a strong motivating message to its team members when a successor is drafted internally. Precious time and money are also saved since human resources can focus on preparing shortlisted staff members as opposed to recruiting prospects from other companies or the open market. Some companies end up making panic hires or rush to promote people who, for no fault of theirs, are not prepared to take the step to the next level.

Employers of choice are not immune to the side effects of these reactive, often impulsive decisions and sadly the Peter Principle often results. This is when someone who was competent in one position is promoted and becomes ineffective in that elevated role. Here is a guide to effective succession planning:

1. Initiation: This is the stage at which potentials are groomed and educated about the rudiments and core values of the business. Special emphasis is placed on the organisation's systems and guidelines, the company's vision and operational structure.

2. Selection: After a careful and often complex assessment process, the team member adjudged the best fit for the job is chosen. But it doesn't end there…

Keeping The Dream Alive

Preserving business continuity is hard work. Keeping a Blue Chip company at a high level requires a strong commitment to continuously develop its internal talent pool. The next two steps are critical.

3. Training: Through an extensive training regimen, measurable goals and objectives are set to prepare the selected individual to assume actual leadership responsibilities. This is the transition from theoretical exercises and learning to hands-on practical application.

4. Transition: When the incumbent manager leaves, retires or moves up the ladder, the 'Chosen One' formally takes charge, sometimes in an interim or acting capacity until formally confirmed in the position.

It's not enough to subjectively and haphazardly pick team members to promote to higher positions. Done improperly, this process can backfire and result in demoralising the team when one of their own is not properly screened and prepared for their new role, and end up failing in that position. Not to mention the adverse effects on the company and the person's direct reports.

Planning for success is a deliberate and carefully thought through process. Failing to plan is therefore not an option.

Until next time leaders, keep looking up!

Debra Fraser MBA, is CEO of Caribbean HR Solutions, a board member of the BPIAJ and the Global Services Sector, a member of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, and the Society of Human Resources Management. Please direct comments to or

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