Business Options; Succession Planning Program

Article excerpt

Byline: Roberto B. Ortiz

At some point in a manager's life, he will be placed in a situation where a valuable employee decides to resign for a reason.

Most managers do. I know I have been placed in this situation many times. With a high degree of employment mobility among high flyers, we often scrounge the bottom of the organizational barrel to fill in the vacuum that is created by a resigning colleague. The result could be disruptive, not to mention stressful sometimes bordering on a short-term disaster. Just thinking of training someone all over again can be frustrating.

What is interesting is that most managers and businesses are not prepared to handle this. Very often, the business does not even consider this in their risk management. And indeed, it is a risk that needs to be assessed and mitigated especially if it involves key executives that could spell the difference between business continuity and failure. Imagine a situation whereby the CEO or the CFO was to give you only a thirty-day notice. How would the business cope?

In my many years of management experience, I have learned to deal with this with a mix of approaches. One successful method would be to install a structured approach to succession planning. The mechanism comprises several aspects that are integrated and forms coherent whole and is directly linked with corporate strategies.

The critical components of our succession planning system include identification of key employees who will undergo the program; profiling the long list of employees; a selection process via a rigorous interview and testing procedure; identification of learning and management gaps; a tailored individual development program aligned with corporate strategic directions together with an execution program; and a performance appraisal and measurement system that is linked to the human resource development program. To complete the system, we have installed a performance-based remuneration package that is linked to the development program. The exercise is reviewed annually to ensure that there is no gap in the succession pipeline.

The first component is the selection of potential candidates who will be invited to participate in the program. The selection process involves all the key managers of the business. It entails selecting nominees based on a list of qualifications. These requirements will vary from one organization to another. What is important is for the business to align the requirements based on need as well as basic traits valuable to the organization such as integrity, leadership, knowledge, interpersonal skills, foresight, shared values and vision, among others. In addition, we also make sure that the individual exhibits adherence to our corporate values and shares the company' vision for the future.

The profiling process involves third party profilers. There are a number of institutions that can handle this aspect. This is one that can be outsourced provided a clear statement of expectations is clearly set. …