Can you spot the next leader?

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Can you spot the next leader?

liSuccession planning is a must in every office, yet many corporations refuse to take it seriously. Here's how you can use it to keep an organisation running smoothly

By Dr Sudhakar Kota and Dr Ajith Kumardr

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Published: Sat 16 Jul 2016, 11:37 AM

Last updated: Sat 16 Jul 2016, 1:40 PM

Succession planning is a strategic approach that ensures necessary talent and skills are available when needed, and that essential processes are maintained when employees in critical positions leave. One of the major concerns for any organisation is to have good succession planning as it ensures the organisation will move in the right direction. However, many people, from the CEO to the lower level management, consider succession planning something of a 'tabboo', as they fear the loss of power and authority. Moreover, many executives believe that leadership development is a job for the Human Resource department alone. This is one of the major misconceptions that managers can have. The truth is that succession planning should happen at all levels of management so that managers can ensure smooth functioning of the organisation at all times.
Here are some of the benefits of succession planning:
> It develops skills within the organisation
> It aligns strategic goals and human resources to ensure that the "right people with right attitude are in the right place at the right time"
>It helps in retaining and engaging employees while also helping them realise their career plans and aspirations within the organisation
> It ensures that there are always qualified candidates ready to fill critical or key positions
> It provides stability which, in turn, sustains high-level performance
> It identifies workforce renewal needs as a means of targeting necessary employee training and development
> It improves employees' ability to respond to changing environmental demands
> It provides the opportunity for timely transfer of knowledge.
In the UAE, we have family-run businesses as well as medium and small enterprises which continue to leave succession planning to chance despite knowing its importance. Succession planning consists of selecting a successor, which includes identifying the potential successors, developing the criteria for selection, communicating the decision, training the successor, developing the successor and defining the leader's role after succession, if any. These steps need not be sequential and some can be performed simultaneously. However, failure to plan for orderly manpower succession can result in monetary losses and, in extreme cases, even closure of business.There are two important requirements for succession planning to be successful at the workplace.
Firstly, the board, directors, founder or CEO will have to spend time getting to know the rising stars, and gauge the efficacy of their leadership skills. Secondly, all senior managers and heads of departments should share upcoming junior managers with other units. This way, rising future leaders will gain exposure to the company's operations and also experience how various units collaborate and execute strategies. Cross functional assignments also provide opportunities to master new business challenges.Succession planning can be proactive or reactive.
A proactive one is when people move into different areas for experience and training before they occupy key positions. Reactive succession planning is when the organisations frantically search for appropriate candidates at the last second and end up either experiencing a steady attrition in talent, retaining people with outdated skills or promoting mediocre employees and ending up with low performance.To be realistic, succession must be planned years in advance of expected needs and not just as sudden crisis management. To properly train a successor, the organisation needs sufficient time to expose the personnel to the full spectrum of opportunities within the firm. Skillfully done, it will bring peace of mind to those who want to lead their companies to success.

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