5 common missteps in succession planning

According to PwC's Marike Kleynhans

Although many organisations have taken steps to establish succession management within the organisation, there are some common pitfalls which remain. In this article, PwC senior associate Marike Kleynhans explains that, while succession planning is not an easy process, it is vital to ensure the future success of an organisation. In order for the succession management process to be and to remain effective, organisations should, as part of forward-looking leadership development, continuously renew future leadership requirements in order to align with the future direction and business strategies of the organisation.

Here are five common mistakes that companies make regarding succession planning.

1. Organisations fail to properly identify, define and establish the right roles and responsibilities for the process of succession planning. Many roles within organisations and their inherent responsibilities continue to shift and organisations often fail to properly clarify what each role entails and to involve the correct people in an effective way. Clear examples are where the board of the organisation is in charge of CEO succession but lack the information and insights necessary to make fully informed decisions. In some other instances, the CEO might have approval to select a successor without input and constructive challenges from other stakeholders. 

2. An important aspect of succession planning, and which organisations often fail to take into account, is that the evaluation and development of successors should not be done against an outdated set of criteria. The organisation should instead use forward-looking profiles so as to evaluate and identify potential candidates for succession ahead of time.

3. Succession plans often seem to be adequate at first glance, but fail to meet its required objectives. These plans are often based on ineffective assessment methods, superficial discussions of succession candidates and development plans which lack the proper development objectives and strategies which are meant to build and develop specific required knowledge, skills and behavioural maturity which is required for the individuals to be able to be effective successors.

4. Inadequate preparation and training which in turn results in an individual not being able to step into a vacated role/promotion;

5. Lack of a structured plan can lead to inadequate preparation and miscommunication to employees.