A study we did a few
years ago in Zimbabwe showed that less than 10% of Zimbabwean organisations
have a formal succession plan in place. This trend is worrying given that
corporate boards need to ensure business continuity in case of any
eventualities. Why is there such low compliance with the development of
succession plans in Zimbabwe?
We noted that this
trend is not only in the corporate world but also in politics. When there is no
formal succession plan in place, the takeover of key roles in cases where incumbents
leave the organisation for whatever reason sometimes can be chaotic. This is
why every board need to ensure that the organisation has a formal succession
plan that is monitored periodically by the Board.
How can businesses
ensure that there are formal succession plans for executives and all other
mission-critical roles within the organisation?
with a formal succession plan policy. This policy needs to detail why
succession planning is important for the organisation. It should cover what roles
will be targeted for succession planning and why. The roles to be covered must
all be mission-critical roles (MCR). The more important part is how the successor
will be identified and developed. If the process of identifying successors and
developing them is done haphazardly, the results will not benefit the
organisation. Key points to take note here, are that the process of identifying
successors should be done on merit and should never be a preserve of one
individuals or a select group of people. The process must be extremely
transparent to maintain the credibility of the process. The first stage is for
the organisation to spell out through a scientifically-driven competency model, what
the requirements are for each target role. Use psychometric tests and
assessments centres to select the candidates and also identify development gaps
the targets candidates may have.
one is indispensable – Most organisations make the mistake of creating certain
individuals as indispensable. Successful organisations across the globe make it
clear to all employees regardless of the level that they are dispensable. Once
this message is made clear, no employee will then hold the organisation to
ransom especially when they get new opportunities outside the organisation. It
is a bad policy for an organisation to counter offer employees. If you have
been developing your staff with succession planning in mind, you would never
need to counter offer employees leaving your organisation.
all people occupying key roles on fixed-term contracts- When you put
individuals who occupy key roles on contract, you are sending a message that no
one is going to be here forever. This will force your organisation to develop
skills internally to take over such roles. It also helps in putting the
individuals occupying such roles in the right frame of mind as they will be
aware that they will have to leave when their term is up.
into the habit of terminating good employees when their term is up. There has
been a serious debate on the tenure of executive roles. The reason why this
debate is here is that people have overstayed in roles. It should never have
gotten to this situation where people have to be asked to leave through fixed-term
contracts. Every employee needs to know that its good for them to not exceed 10
years with one employer if they want to build a solid career. What has
constrained some well-meaning individuals not to leave sometimes has been the
tight job market where not many job opportunities exist.
is important to screen at entry- Get
into the habit of getting good people at entry. Do not bank on developing the
individuals once they are in the organisation. Many organisations have wasted
resources trying to develop people who have no capacity for roles. You save
money by selecting the right people at entry. Never bank on developing them,
because most of them cannot change.
competition for roles for internal candidates. Your organisation will flourish
once employees know that they have an equal chance to progress within the
organisation. If roles are occupied based on nepotism and other forms of
corruption, good people will never show up even in cases where they are
poor performers – Successful organisations take a very hard stance against poor
performers. Yes, it is good to give them a chance but do not take too long to
get rid of non-performers. They will cost you money and other resources and you
may never be able to recover such resources.
senior executives to go on leave periodically to allow their immediate
subordinates an opportunity to act in their role. That will motivate
subordinates to develop themselves and look forward to a day they can take over
once they reach the right level of competency.
follow some of the points here, you should be able to develop a sustainable
succession plan policy for your business. That will ensure business continuity
at all times.
Memory Nguwi is an
Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant-
Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources
consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4
481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number +263 77 2356 361 or email: email@example.com or visit our
website at www.ipcconsultants.com