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In today’s dynamic competitive global environment, human capital in an organization’s most important asset which often differentiating highly successful businesses from those that struggle to survive. Yet, in the ongoing effort to develop a strong and capable effort, most organizations focus on hiring and training but neglect succession planning, which is the most essential ingredient in building an organization that is capable of achieving its strategic objectives. The aim of


Ensuring continuity of effort in achieving organizational objectives is a perennial problem for the managers at all levels. It involves planning for both the unexpected (resignations, long-term sickness and more) and the expected such as retirements. It does require a considerable self-discipline to deal with what may never happen, although it is inevitable that some staff movements occur. How one deal with both contingencies and the planned development can affect one’s own managerial reputation.


One of the key features of a structured management development system is a “succession  management or plan”. Succession planning has become an integral phenomenon in strategic planning although it is not practiced in all organizations. It should essentially be part and parcel of every company’s strategic plan given that new developments come with new roles coupled with challenges and opportunities.



Concept of succession Management



Succession planning is a process of identifying people from within the organization and developing or mentoring them to fill or take up key positions in that organization. It involves preparing other staff members to take up higher level positions when they fall vacant.It is basically a plan of identifying who is currently in-post and, who is both available, qualified and willing to take over in event of retirement, voluntary leaving, dismissal or sickness. It ensures availability of experienced and capable people who are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. It also ensures that a cadre of managers is available to fill the new appointments that may be established in future as a result of expansion. It thus accelerates the transition of qualified employees from the individual contributors to managerial and leadership levels. The ultimate goal of succession management is to ensure continuity of the organization through provision of required human resources to operationalize activities.


Most universally, high-performing companies around the world manage succession at all levels by seeking a seamless succession. The companies expect the new employee or successor to be someone who has been with the company long enough to understand the company, although not necessarily a career lifer and to be part of strategic consensus. That the new employee rarely changes the value of the company, rather builds on those values to take the next steps towards a vision that is shared with the predecessor, who often remains as the chairman or the mentor for a period. All the chief Executive Officers (CEOs) get personally involved in development of a large pool of senior managers.


By contrast, a company which has an abrupt succession to an outsider, who does not share that company’s values will almost do less well. Those companies which do well are likely to appoint successors from within. However, the point must be made that every top management succession needs to be deliberated thoroughly if the organization is to avoid dysfunctional change. That  at senior level management, succession should be accomplished as smoothly as possible to avoid organizational crises which are usually caused by absent or inadequate top management.


There is need to have consciously developed systematic set of learning goals as a group. A typical succession chart need be used and it includes details of key jobholders and brief references to their possible successors.  The starting point is to have an analysis of where management is now in terms of competencies, awareness and understanding required to fulfill its critical tasks and where it will need to be  in future, say in five years time  which includes:

  1. Developing the skills, experience and capabilities of the current management
  2. Investing in the development of high flyers with the potential to join management so that they do so having made the necessary transactions in the  thinking patterns
  3. What competencies will need to be drafted in from outside over a period, either because they are not there now or the key managers will have retired.
  4. Plans to incorporate both groups and individual activities that will stimulate continuous development and learning.
  5. It may also be appropriate from management to maintain a learning log which assist to tap all  what has been learnt over a specified period of time


Succession schedule/Plan/Chart


One of the key features of a structured management development system is succession plan. This is basically a plan for identifying who is currently in-post and who is available and qualified to take over in the event of retirement, voluntary leaving, dismissal or sickness


Information for effective succession management comes from the organizational reviews and demand and supply forecasts. Successful plans will be influenced by career dynamics of the organization and also by the performance and potential assessments which provide information, often of limited validity especially on who is ready now and in the future to fill the projected vacancies. Such information needs to be recorded to facilitate in decisions on promotions, replacements, training and /or additional experience arranged for those with potential or who are earmarked for promotion.


 As Figure 1 indicates, a typical succession chart includes details of key management  jobholders and brief reference to their possible successors.




Department                                        Manager                                                     Date

Existing /present  jobholder or Manager

Potential /possible successors


Post or position



The Officer due for replacement




First choice

Second choice

If promotable, to what position and when



Months time






















Fig. 1 Management succession schedule/char




  1. Talent audit: Succession planning is the process of assessing and auditing talents in the organization in seeking to ascertain whether there is enough potential successors and whether they are good enough and with the right skills plus the attributes for the future. That calls for  reviews of the stocks of talent available and the flows required by the reference to demand and supply forecast and performance
  2. Performance and potential assessments: This aims to identify the training and development needs and , providing  guidance on possible direction for promotion. Assessment of potentiality   can be carried out formally by managers following a performance review. They may be asked to identify people who have vey high potential or no potential at all. They may also be asked to indicate when individuals will be ready for promotion and how far they are likely to get.
  3. Demand and supply forecasts: This is provided by the use of human resource planning. At career planning stage, career advisers take a set of personal attributes and identify the most available opportunity. Further they identify people with the correct abilities and skills for particular jobs
  4. Skills and inventories:  Skills inventories can be prepared which lists each employee’s education, past work experience, vocational interest, specific abilities and skills, compensation history and job tenure. Thus, well-prepared and up-to date skill inventory allow an organization to quickly match forthcoming job openings with employee backgrounds.
  5. Replacement charts: Using management and skills inventories, replacement charts are developed. These manual or automated records which indicate which employees are currently ready for promotion to a specific position. They to list current jobholders and people who are possible replacement should openings occur. This can be used side by side with other pieces of information for succession planning.
  6. Mentoring:
  7. Training: A company that plans its training processes are more successful as they engage training design which promise chances of success. A program structured with the company’s strategy and objectives in mind has a high probability of improving productivity. This requires one to assess the training need touching on aspects of human resource areas o organization as a whole; job characteristics and individual needs.
  8. Job rotation or secondment: An alternation to boredom in the workplace is job rotation. It implies moving employees from one job to another without fundamental change in the nature of the job. Advantage of job rotation is reduced boredom, broadening employee’s knowledge and skill, thus making them competent in several jobs than one. The wide coverage of the job knowledge can enable the employee to assume position left vacant at any time. The approach gives two aims, that is giving a variety in work activity and also enabling the employee to acquire a wider knowledge of experience and skills which will help to develop his/her potential. This is for purpose of increasing work interest, employees can be rotated within a section, department or even branches of an organization.


  1. Job enrichment: This is a technique of involving the subordinates in planning, organizing and controlling of work, that is giving them greater responsibilities and freedom to decide on the job. The scope of the activity may not be increased but it gives them greater respnsibilities for their own performance of the job. It may also be refered to vertical job loading. The approach assist employees to participate in planning decisions of the department leading to job satisfaction, reduction of employee turnover and abseteeism, further leading to increased output.
  2. Job enlargement: This is also referred to horizontal job buildingor expansion, giving it a wide scope. When a job is enlarged, it gives covers a greater number of activities or tasks so that the employee is less specialised. The wider scope of duties is intended to decrease boredom and frustration from repetitive, therefore increasing interest or satisfaction in the job. The approach increase number of operations and also combine tasks to lengthen time cycle required to perform by one person. This in itself offers an experience to the employee incase of a vacancy arising.
  3. Delegation: This means giving authority to someone else to act on your behalf on matters in which you continue to be responsible. It assists to make delegatee responsible while also providing controls to ensure that responsibility is being carried out as per the direction. It implies mutual trust, sharing of respnsibility with the subordinates and ability to tolerate. By delegation, the subordinate is trained for higher level work. Each officer delegating work to his subordinates in essence trains someone to replace him when the need arises. Also, delegation encourages subordinates to undergo both internal and external training so as to be able to perform delegated responsibilities better. The training increases subordinate’s morale and motivation. Far too many managers spend a lot of time doing what subordinates are paid to do. The ultimate result of this can only be that the manager has insufficient  time to do what is paid to do viz. to think and make policies decisions, foresee, prevent and solve problems. However, it must be made clear that even with delegation of authority, responsibility and accountability can never be delegated. That is, the top man is always responsible for the success or otherwise of his departemnt or organization
  4. Coaching: This in an informal person-to-person between the superior and the subordinate. It is a continuous approach to the development of subordinates. It is most intimate form of training and it often takes the form of giving advice or suggestions.It involves reviewing of overall performance, discuss minor and major limitations as a manager and taking corrective actions ragarding limitations. It assists to subordinates to develop managerial skills essential in taking up higher level positions.
  1. Committee representatives: A committee is a group of persons composed of representatives from different who are asked to consider, investigate or act on some matter by pooling together ideas from their specializations .  They are very popular  with management and have become one of the integral part of their operations. Committees facilitate in coordination of activities.Committees foster support for decision making and through committees, employees are given opportunities to participate in decision making by means of presenting their views. Hence participants gain  experience in management through . There is a pooling of special knowledge, advise and talents possessed by individual members. In the committees there are experts from different fields of specializations, with specialized  knowledge such as accountants and economists, hence work can be done more effectively and quickly.



Attributes Of Best Practice Succession Management Programmes


To achieve outstanding results from succession management, an organization must develop an effective and highly focused strategy which centers on organizational excellence. The following are the characteristics of best succession plan:


  1. Certified the purpose and desired results of the succession management programmes.
  2. Determine what performance is required now for all job categories in the organization by establishing competency models.
  3. Established a means to measure individual performance that is aligned to the competencies which is currently demonstrated by successful performers.
  4. Determined what performance is needed in future by establishing future competency models for all job categories.
  5. Creating an ongoing means by which to assess individual potentials against future competency models.
  6. Establishing a means by which narrow gaps through the use of individual developments plans.
  7. Creating a means to follow up and hold people accountable for their actions.
  8. To create a means by which to document the competencies and finding the organizational talent quickly when the need arises.
  9. Creating sustaining rewards for developing people.
  10. Establish a means by which to evaluate the results of the succession planning and management programmes.


Other ingredients critical to the manager in succession planning iclude the following:


  1. The ways a manger show by his  actions that he considers people planning is  fundamental to the future and whether he/she  can do enough to develop his  successors.


  1. Ascertain the member of staff he would he will choose to assume his  responsibilities incase he becomes unable to continue and on what basis are he is  choosing the person.


  1. Whether the person the managers selected is ready to assume the responsibility and what were his/her recent appraisals reports, and  there is a gap between the ideal and actual performance, ascertain the cause.


  1. Determine the additional knowledge or skills/attitudes which needs to be developed based on the agreed priorities and time frame and whether the manager will discuss the proposal with the person concerned.



  1. That if the manager expect his immediate staff to adopt the same planned approach with a view to ascertaining if intended successors are clear about  what the manager expect from them.


  1. Whether the manager himself is  genuinely in a position to commit to paper his plans for people’s movements


              Why most manager/organizations neglect succession planning


  1. Succession planning entails mentoring junior officers through delegation of duties. Most officers
  2. Organization lacks the people who are fully prepared to assume top positions, or having little or no knowledge. This wreaks havoc when the organization leaders retires. As nobody is fully prepared to take up the position left.
  3. It can paralyze both management and staff therefore impending organization’s ability to execute its business planome managers fear to relinguish duties
  4. There is also an assumption that some subordinates  lack necessary experiency and therefore do things wrongly after
  5. Old age aid fear that young ones may do better and oushine hence be recommended to replace the bosses.
  6. Inability to accept ways of doing things just because the new ways do not confine with the old habits or procedures of doing things





In today’s fast moving environment, succession panning may be more important although more difficult to conduct than ever before. This has been occasioned by fact that most executives are frequently lamenting that their firms are chronically short of talents. The following are some of the beneficial attributes to organizations which integrate succession planning among their strategies:

  1. It assists the organization to build and develop a pool of talent at different leadership levels to be utilized in the future.
  2. The programmes the organization to avoid or minimize disruptions and dislocations incase of sudden departure of senior manager.
  3. Since succession planning involves thinking of the future, it assists organization to link future vision, environmental trends and the current position.
  4. Set training programmes which
  5. Succession planning is an ongoing which assist an organization to align its business goals with and its human capital needs.
  6. It ensures that the organization can keep pace with changes to the business, industry and the overall marketplace.
  7. Succession planning assist organization to prepare for an unexpected event. It is often difficult to prepare for unimaginable, yet the sudden eventualities caused by diseases, accidents, plane crash or other disasters are ongoing realities that all organizations must be aware of, therefore creating the need to plan.
  8. The programme ensures that the organization has the right personnel to function at peak efficiency.
  9. It can help organizations conduct an inventory of human capital hence facilitates understanding the gaps to be bridged.
  10. Succession planning helps organizations manage change in a more holistic way.
  11. Best practice organizations use succession planning to develop and maintain leadership and to ensure that that they address all skills and competencies required for today’s business environment.
  12. Succession planning can be an extremely powerful tool in motivating and retioning top leadership.
  13. It assist to prepare the current employee to take up key roles
  14. It develops talents and long term growth
  15. It improves workforce capabilities and overall performance.
  16. It improves employee commitment and therefore leads to retention since all employees work hoping to be r.
  17. It meets career development requirements of the existing employees. All human beings want to grow and develop.
  18. It improves support to staff throughout their employment.
  19. It encounters the increasing  deficiency of recruiting employees externally.
  20. It focuses on the continuity and improved knowledge sharing.
  21. It provides more effective monitoring and tracking of employee proficiency.






  1. Identify the roles for succession to understand the work. This involves: Job establishment or grades required in the post; Job description for each grade; specifying  the technical inputs required for the job; being  clear on the number of openings or establishments available; conducting the training needs analysis in a view to identifying the  gaps which is to be filled; analyzing  the current officers; studying the customer needs to assist in reviewing the establishment and

considering the experience required for the post.


  1. Prepare the staff for higher roles .This entails: training by assessing the training impact; coaching and mentoring; exposing tours for acquaintance; benchmarking with similar organizations; delegating authority; acting roles and performance assessment and improving the schemes of service of the employees by discarding the obsolete ones.



  1. Track potential employees. The stage involves: objective performance appraisal; task assignments; keeping up to the date employee skills inventory; scheme of service requirements and ensuring that those who have shown potential for upward mobility and experience and education



  1. Promote capable employees. This stage has the following ingredients: creating favourable intents; advising in good time to induce; encouraging officers to apply; giving good recommendations and do not wait for the eleventh hour



  1. Advancing in skills and experience in taking up his responsibilities: This calls for training of staff to equip them wih the requisite skills of performing higher level duties.


  1. Focus on the future requirements using the factors listed under. This require: Determining  what will be the effect of organization’s future plans on the staffing levels in the department; ascertaining whether different  people or skills will be required say in  a year’s time and determining whether present jobholders or others could be developed/develop themselves for these jobs.


  1. Estimate the action to be taken: The stage calls for: What is being done now to ensure that future staffing needs will not cause disruptions; whether one is genuinely planning a head or that the staff crises are continually planning and obtaining additional information concerning the staff that one needs to generate/request from others.



It should be recognized that scope for formal succession planning may be severely limited in today’s more flexible and rapidly changing organizations, where elaborate plans may be out of date as soon as they are made. Despite this limitation, succession planning need be provided for tin each organization to ensure that there is smooth running even when some employees leave suddenly.






  1. Cole, G.A, Management Theory and Practice, 6th Edition, 2004
  2. Gower, I   Handbook of Management,  4th edition, 1998


  1. Armstrong, M. Human Resource Management Practice


  1. Cole, G.A. Personnel and Human Resource Management, 5th Edition, 2002


  1. Bohlander, S. Muman Resouce Management, 2007


  1. Torrington, D. Human Resource Management, 6th Edition, 2005


  1. Torrington, D. Human Resource Management, 7th Edition






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