Build Succession into Performance Appraisal

Succession planning is crucial to employee engagement because it encourages faith in your employees and hope for promotion in an orderly manner. There is a challenge with succession planning within a company. People tend not to spend lots of time thinking about their retirement or demise.

If your firm does a lousy job succession planning, don't worry. You're in great company. It's the rare firm indeed that focuses on this important topic. Why? Here are just a few possible reasons:

  • “No one else can do what I do.” False. Everyone is replaceable — either with a new hire or with a simple shift of responsibilities to existing employees.

  • “If I develop my successor, that person will take my job.” In defense of those managers who are reluctant to develop their successors, their concern has some merit. Since the mid-1980s, corporate America has become a tough place to work, what with the seemingly constant reductions in force (RIFs), reorganizations, mergers, and cost cutting.

    Some have built whole company cultures around job insecurity! It's no wonder we don't develop successors. Job insecurity is the greatest obstacle to successful succession planning. Not surprisingly, organizations who have cultivated the trust of their employees have less of a problem with this. The same goes for firms with a history of promoting from within.

  • “There is simply no time to develop my successor.” Another truism. Many organizations don't budget the time or the training to make succession planning stick. To ensure successful succession planning, it's not enough to have trust — you also need time.

To aid in succession planning, tie it into your performance appraisal process. It's a natural extension of the EDP. Succession planning also plays a part in engagement. When companies have a strong succession plan in place, particularly if it involves frequently hiring from within, employees naturally feel more confident and engaged.

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