Succession planning is one of the most important tasks that an organization’s HR department carries out. It is the process by which the HR department works in alliance with top management to select, train and empower a specific individual to undertake a job with higher authority, responsibility and pay at a future point in time.
There are a number of interested parties in the succession planning process. These include the employee leaving his present job, a few short-listed employees--one among them to be chosen to fill in the gap, the immediate superiors of the short-listed candidates, the HR department and top management. All of these parties work together to make the succession transition process as smooth as possible. They divide work, such as preparation of the job description, training the short-listed employees and selecting the best one among them.
The premise and rationale behind succession planning is that under no circumstance should work be disrupted due to the absence of any one employee. For that, the organization prepares today for a vacancy that may arise tomorrow. The vacancy could arise due to a resignation, dismissal, promotion, retirement or death of an employee.
The employee who is chosen to take on the job of additional authority and responsibility is one who has been with the organization for some time. He understands the company's policy and ethics well, and hence is able to gel well with the existing setup. His motivational quotient is also exceptionally high as he is the one who has been selected from among several candidates. He feels he has been rewarded for his past good work and is driven to outdo himself in the future.
Sometimes it is essential to inject new ideas and skill-sets into the organization for advancement purposes. This opportunity is lost with succession planning as the talent pool is restricted to the company's present employees. Also, succession planning may breed disharmony and dissatisfaction in the minds of those short-listed, but not selected, employees. They often leave the company for jobs elsewhere
The need for succession planning arises when a vacancy is impending. The HR department informs and urges all the departments that are likely to have qualified employees to apply for the vacancy. Once the applications are received, HR reviews them and, in accordance with top management, short-lists a few candidates. The short-listed candidates receive extensive technical and soft skills training for a probationary period. At the end of this phase, the performances of these candidates are evaluated and tabulated once again. The report is then forwarded to top management to make their call. At this point, management selects one employee who is then placed under the departing employee to receive hands-on training.