Pros and Cons of Succession Planning

28 08 2011

As baby-boomers head for retirement, companies are starting to realise, sometimes belatedly, that a fair amount of corporate knowledge goes with them. Who is going to fill those shoes and effect a smooth transition? Leaving aside family-owned businesses, there are both pros and cons of succession-planning in an organisation.

• Great way to make sure there is a smooth transfer from person to person.

• The person stepping into the role has been trained on the job and knows the organisation – no lead-in time for orientation.

• Corporate knowledge is not lost

• Better the devil you know – you know what you are getting with the internal successor.

• Can be a great motivator for the person chosen as a successor – they know there is a promotion waiting for them if they do the right thing. This may be a great way to keep a specific talent with the organisation.

• The person identified for succession now may not be the best person for the job in five years’ time. Another person more suited may have joined the organisation.

• The job and its skill requirements may change between when you decide upon a successor and when they are ready to move into the job.

• There may be a negative effect on other employees not chosen for the role – if there is no possibility of promotion they may go elsewhere.

• The chosen successor may not be motivated to try hard but instead plot a “safe” course, because they know that providing they don’t make a mistake, they will get the promotion.

• You miss out on the opportunity to recruit new blood and new ideas into the organisation.

• If the chosen successor goes elsewhere or proves not to be the right person – then what?

• An employee choosing their successor will have a subjective opinion of potential candidates – and may also have an ulterior motive or hidden agenda.

• When the change-over happens, it doesn’t look like an open merit-based, fair and equitable process for appointing the successor. This may be a negative for other staff, other candidates, shareholders and clients.

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2 responses

28 08 2011

I remember having a conversation with someone (or a group of people) a while ago in which it was mentioned that someone had managed to receive funding to interview Baby Boomers in order to independently document all of the intricacies and intimate knowledge they hold from their long years of dedicated service in their workplace. It had been shown that these valued workers were very reluctant to reveal their knowledge to their fellow workers in fear of being replaced, as is want in this new work culture. Yet, these dedicated workers’ ethics were such that their loyalty to their company and their desire to impart the wisdom gained within their own timing of succession planning was also strong. Hence, this independent documentation allowed for both of these potentially conflicting needs to be met.

28 08 2011

wow – that’s really fascinating. if you can find the source, let me know.

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