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Succession Planning and The Accruing Benefits

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Succession Planning – When your plan is to retire in the nearest future, for whatever reasons, then there is that need to carefully plan for your successor, so as to protect the values of your organization and limit the incidence of vacuum creation in its general performances.

As the business owner of your organization over time there would have been several things that have been very dependent on your personality, skills, and decision-making. To ensure that there is no gap nor breach but continuity and seamless transition, there is that choice to ensure that a proper succession plan is put in place to engender and foster continuity when you exit the business, when you so desire, without negative effects on the business operations.

What is Succession Planning?

“Succession Planning is the process of identifying high-potential employees, evaluating and developing their skills and preparing them for advancement”. Succession planning is about planning towards transition of leadership positions which includes recruiting new talents or training employees of the organization to successfully takeover roles of exiting employees. It is an important aspect of talent management process.

Succession plan in other words describes and clarifies the succession process and it is developed as an overall strategy for the entire business; it spells out roles thereafter, the responsibilities of teams that will be involved, the manning levels, structures and functions of every position.

Human Resources Department of organisations are most times saddled with the responsibilities of searching internally or recruiting external candidates that are right for the position with the right culture-fit. Sometimes, organisations groom potential employees internally to replace exiting employees.

A lot of organisations hardly engage in this and sometimes informally. According to a 2019 article in Forbes, two-third of companies have no formal succession plan. It is supposed to be a task that organisations evolve as it is designed to curtail the unforeseen and unexpected absences of employees who occupy key roles in the organization. In most organisations talent’s growth and development are accelerated and development plans are put in place for them.

In succession planning, there is need to have a clear understanding of the organisation’s long-term goals and objectives. It is equally important to identify high-potential candidates, talents within the organisation and their respective developmental needs and requirements and also determine the workforce trends and predictions.

Identifying a Successor:

When considering a successor, these are some of the steps you take:

  • Write out the job description: describe the functions and responsibilities inherent in the job;
  • Person description: identify skills, interests and abilities required to perform the job;
  • Draw up list of candidates: their experiences, qualifications and career history. This is made easier if the potential successor is an employee or family member. In this wise, you have to be more objective in your plan and choice;
  • Identify skills-gap and training needs;
  • provide development plans and monitor performances.

Benefits of Succession Planning:

Succession Planning:

  • provides means of identifying key roles, employees with the right skill-mix and positions requirements to fill within a given time;
  • ensures that vacuums are not created in key positions in organisations thereby always creating stability in business operations;
  • provides meaningful developmental opportunities;
  • acts as reward to employees for dedication, commitment and long-service to organisations;
  • gives insights to management on the future constitution and makeup of the organistation.
  • assists reduce costs on recruiting and enables organization manage recruitment in-house;
  • provides data for management decision-making.
  • reduces labour turnover and allows for continuity.

In succession planning you should ensure that you discuss with as many people as possible who would be affected by the plan; consult widely and seek opinion so as to get reassurance and reduce misunderstanding amongst stakeholders, gain confidence and explain the essence of the succession plan.

You also require to have a time-frame for the transition process. What is the timeline for training of your successor, resignation of the current job-holder so as to avoid a succession plan that is timeless which could also lead to loss of key accounts.

Succession planning could also be complex if not well handled more especially if you don’t know the right steps to take. Seek advice from experienced professionals, consultants, lawyers, colleagues, friends who have a good understanding of the subject matter, whose experience may be relevant.

Choosing a Successor:

In choosing a successor you must do proper person-evaluation – you should look critically at candidate’s:

  • commitment to the business ideals;
  • ability to develop further;
  • leadership qualities and interpersonal skills they have to motivate others;
  • how independent they can operate and how appropriate etc.

Common Mistakes in Succession Planning:

There are common mistakes made whilst carrying out succession plan and these are some of them:

Reacting to crisis: Some are reactive and wait for crisis to occur within the organisation before hurriedly engaging in succession planning. This is not supposed to be so. It is advisable to engage in succession planning whilst the business is still in good stead, and profitable as it allows for smooth transition and gives good range of options instead of rushing into it, trying to ameliorate the situation and sometimes compounding the already compounded situation.:

Taking the Wrong Path:

In succession planning, you should be open-minded in your decision-making so as to objectively select a good successor. Don’t rush into putting your relations, children, son in the position just because he is heir-apparent … “I want my child to continue from where I stop”. These are undue sentiments we get involved in and it has led to the fall of many businesses! Sometimes they (relations) have different plans, very different from yours! You should be more concerned about the ability to run a successful business and the effects the decision would have on long-serving employees. The answer to this is to allow for good time to do a wider consultation with relevant staff and business partners.

Consulting an outsider who understands your business and the market will also suffice as he would be in a better position to independently identify the best hands to succeed you and also make recommendations; he is positioned to give an objective judgement on qualities of employees you could select as your successor.

Holding on to position because you feel you are indispensable may be detrimental to the organization. This is the worse you can do to your business. Don’t wait till it is too late and even when you leave don’t interfere in the business except if the business is truly failing and its in dire need of your assistance.

I understand letting go of power may be a bit difficult but if succession plan in properly put in place and executed accordingly, you should be confident that the business will be on a good pedestal and it will do well.

Contributed by Agolo Uzorka, CEO/ Lead Consultant, Eugene + George Consulting Limited (www,

Succession Planning and The Accruing Benefits
Agolo Uzorka

Agolo Uzorka
the authorAgolo Uzorka