In simple terms, succession planning refers to organizations identifying potential candidates for filling future vacancies, especially at the top. Once these candidates are identified, they are often trained and prepared for the role, and sometimes are even appraised of the possibility. Whether large or small, succession planning is a must for all organizations. There are many ways to identify high-potential candidates for the purpose of succession planning, as discussed below:
Standard Performance Appraisal: Most organizations have a standard performance appraisal system in place, which evaluate the performance of the employees against the key result areas (KRAs) identified for certain positions. This is a good place to begin, but definitely neither sufficient nor conclusive, only indicative.
Doers vs Followers: The successor at the top should ideally be a natural leader and not one with a follower mentality, since he / she will have to take decisions on critical matters regularly. Apart from basic observation, several standard psychometric tests on leadership and personality tests are there to help you decide on a suitable successor.
Team Player vs Lone Performers: It is a given, that any successor to the top brass cannot be an isolated performer. He / she needs to be a team player to the core, balancing out the team dynamics while getting optimal output from the team. ‘360-degree review’ of the concerned candidate by seniors, peers and subordinates can be useful in determining his / her team orientation.
Multi-tasker vs Uni-taskers: There is so much that a leader has to juggle with. Uni-taskers often fail in that aspect. Ideally you are looking for a multi-tasker and someone with a multi-faceted thinking ability as well, who can switch quickly between roles, projects, clients and so on.
Aptitude and Learning: Quick, efficient learners help the organization grow when accorded leadership positions. An aptitude for on-the-job learning coupled with presence of mind, clarity of perception and effective grasp on conceptualization of challenges in general can be a big plus for potential successors. A good way to assess this is to map the learning curve of the candidates being considered as potential successors and use informed judgment to evaluate the same.