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Have you thought about your company's succession plan?

by , 13 February 2013
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Monday. He's the first pope in over 600 years to resign from the post. Luckily, the Catholic Church has a succession procedure in place to ensure the seat isn't left empty when Pope Benedict XVI steps down later this month. What about you? Does your company have a succession plan for the day you step down or, heaven forbid, something happens to you?

After eight years in the highest seat in the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has resigned from the role due to health issues. Just minutes after the announcement, news sites were abuzz with who will succeed him as pope when the papal conclave meets to elect a new Pope in March.
Normally, a new pope is only elected when the pope dies in office.
It just goes to show you how important having a succession plan really is. Here's why your company needs one.
Why your company needs a succession plan
A succession plan ensures your company's success continues, no matter who holds key management, technical, operational or specialist positions, says HR practitioner, Marisa Muller in the Practical Guide to Human Resources.
After all, says Muller, 'it is estimated that 70% of executive appointments made externally don't succeed! Through succession planning you retain the skills vital to your business by appointing from within your existing staff complement.'
Here's what you need to put a company succession plan in place today
'To set up a succession plan you need to identify what will create the 'right' leadership and the knowledge/skill necessary to drive your company into the future,' explains the Practical Guide to Human Resources. To do that, you must focus on the following in your organisation:
  1. The individual characteristics of your existing leaders
  2. Key competencies
  3. Knowledge base
  4. Skills and experience
You also need to ensure your company's succession plan applies to these four areas
  1. Leadership positions: This includes having a succession plan for any management roles from directors, executive management and board members, right down to line management and supervision.
  1. Operational positions: Your succession plan must consider key positions that keep the operational 'wheels' turning (e.g. logistics, maintenance, finance, production).
  1. Critical and scarce skills: You must identify the skills within your company that enable you to offer the company's unique services, (e.g. technical skills, creative skills, specific disciplines) – make sure your succession plan considers who would take over these roles if the current person in charge resigns or is unable.
  1. Skill shortages: Don't forget to include future skills requirements for positions that require specific professional and technical skills that are in short supply in the market in your succession plan (e.g. engineering, tradespeople/artisans, financial graduates, medical staff). These areas would require learnerships and bursaries to ensure a source of skills for the future.
Succession planning is key to retaining the necessary leadership and skills within your organisation. Without the right talent at the right time, your company could crumble. Make sure you start putting a succession plan in place today – so that this doesn't happen to your company.

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