Human Resource Management: Critical Failure Factors In Succession Planning

What Are The Critical Failure Factors In Succession Planning?

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Everyone retires. When a company has no succession planning in place to replace those who are going to retire, it will experience a major setback. The below article will discuss in detail the factors responsible for succession planning.

Many large companies claim to have a rigorous succession planning process. However, when a top management vacancy arises, many companies fail to appoint a suitable person. Some companies take years to source for the right candidate to assume the role. The succession planning process in many companies fails. 

There are eight critical failure factors in succession planning. A combination of all the eight critical failure factors in succession planning amounts to a disaster for the company. 

The first critical failure factor in succession planning is that management does nothing. Nobody wants to assume ownership of the succession planning process.

Some managers think that HR department should own the succession planning process. However, they refuse to listen to HR when it comes to vacancy arises in senior management team. 

The Board of Directors never asks HR department to recommend internal candidate for CEO vacancy. 

The second critical failure factor in succession planning is over-reliance on papers. Some companies have policies and procedures on succession planning. However, they are not putting the policies and procedures into practice. 

The third critical failure factor in succession planning is over-reliance on software. Some companies buy off-the-shelf software, without matching the software to the needs of the companies. They forget that succession planning is about people, not software. 

The fourth critical failure factor in succession planning is the rigidity of the plan. The succession planning process is dynamic. The succession planning process should fit into the company's business plan. It is not a standalone plan. When the situation of a company changes, due to the merger and acquisition, expansion or downsizing, it will affect the whole succession planning process. 

The fifth critical failure factor in succession planning is failure to link to training and development plan. The succession planning process is part of training and development plan. When the companies view succession planning process as a separate process, the potential leaders will not get the necessary training. 

The sixth critical failure factor in succession planning is a communication problem. Succession planning is about people. When the companies want to develop a person, they must inform the person. Some employees are comfortable in their present roles. They do not want promotion. They do not want the stress that comes with promotion. When the companies force them to accept the succession planning process, they will resign. 

The seventh critical failure factor in succession planning is over-promotion. The risk of promoting people beyond their level of competencies is a major failure of succession planning. All employees in the company lose confidence in succession planning, when they see that incompetent people are promoted. 

The last failure factor in succession planning is failure to link to compensation and benefits plan. The employees in the company expect rewards for subjecting to rigorous training and development plan. The succession plan has to motivate and reward the employees for reaching up. The succession plan has to motivate the person to stay with the company.


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Succession planning is an important process, yet many companies fail to plan for it.

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