Business Bites: Succession Planning
Oftentimes organizations think about succession planning too late. Succession Planning is one of the tools we use when we think about replacing new positions and identifying the new talent in organizations. Having this organizational continuity can result in success over time. Subscribe today wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. This week we're going to be talking about succession planning.
Succession planning in organizations is one of the concepts that we think of when we're thinking about replacing new positions, identifying the new talent in organizations. This term was first identified by Henri Fayol, thinking about management history and a contributor to this term of succession planning. It really became codified in the late 70s when Walter Mahler used his work, it's titled Executive Continuity; thinking about how organizations shape their future with the talent that they bring in.
And so when we're thinking about this talent, what he was focused on is how can we utilize this practice of succession planning to ensure business continuity, that executive continuity in an organization. Over time, this is specifically focused not just on the executive level, but also management and leadership positions throughout the organization and around continuing the business functions and keeping things operating smoothly.
Now typically, when we talk about succession planning, it's when we actually have a need for that person to step into that new role. Let's say you know that there's a director or VP-level position is going to be opening up because that leader is maybe retiring in a few years or maybe later on this year. Oftentimes I find that organizations think about succession planning too late. When a person is actively leaving that organization, that senior leader, or in that leadership position is leaving, it's too late to start thinking about succession planning. Succession planning is planning for that person's exit years in advance.
An organization knows the roles that it has in leadership and again managerial positions and knows that eventually that person may move on to other opportunities or the business needs may change. Planning in advance, again three, five, perhaps even seven years in advance for the people that are going to be stepping into that role, is one of the best ways to ensure organizational continuity, again, that organizational success over time.
Now, let's talk a little bit about what that looks like. So sometimes with succession planning, organizations identify individuals that they want to be able to move up into the organization. They'll select maybe five individuals who they see potentially moving into that role into the future. What happens to those individuals then? Perhaps they receive coaching, they do job shadowing, they do extended training and or development opportunities. There's some amount of preparation that they need in addition to practical work experience to identify whether or not they're an appropriate fit for that role.
Now, you'll notice I said maybe five people for one role. Oftentimes organizations find that when developing talent in that way, again it's a long cycle, maybe three or five years. You don't know whether those five people will stay that whole time. And so it can be advantageous for organizations to prepare more people to be able to go into a smaller number of roles. That being said, I've often seen times where an organization has invested time or resources into a group of employees to develop them to move into more senior positions and has seen as a process perhaps we could grow the business in this way or perhaps we have a new area here and also changes the nature of the work to meet the talent that they have.
So, succession planning isn't necessarily just filling open positions in senior and leadership roles, but it's also thinking about the talent that you're bringing up, thinking about who are those individuals that are going to step into that role. Again, not the moment that someone decides to leave, but as they are progressing on that path, thinking three, five, maybe even seven years into the future about who will be ready when we have that next step to take. And thinking about it ahead of time rather than after the fact when it's definitely too late.
This has been Sara with Business Bites. You can reach me at [email protected] We would love to hear from you on other terminology that you'd like bite-sized. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice and share this podcast with a friend. We'll see you next time.
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