Succession planning must be deliberate – Lucy Quist

Business News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017



Mrs Lucy Quist says inadequate succession planning breeds challenges

Succession planning is a deliberate orchestration of an organisation’s staff capacity to meet the human capital needs of the company for the immediate term and continuing into the long term in order to improve or maintain its market position.

Through the succession planning process, companies develop their employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities, and prepare them for advancement or promotion into evermore challenging roles in the organisation.

Actively pursuing succession planning ensures that employees are constantly developed to fill roles in the organisation. As organisations expand or evolve, its succession planning guarantees that it has employees on hand, ready and waiting to fill the new roles.

It is for this reason that the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme on Joy FM, used last Sunday’s edition to educate companies on how to develop leaders to fill in the new roles.

The show, hosted by Rev. Albert Ocran, had the Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, Mrs Lucy Quist, who spoke on the topic: “Developing leaders around you.”

Touching on how critical succession planning is, Mrs Quist said it was extremely important as most of the challenges being faced by once successful businesses now were as a result of inadequate succession planning.

“We should not underestimate succession planning because if you get a wrong successor, all the work that you have put in can completely go waste,” she stated.

She, therefore, advised organisations and companies to take deliberate steps towards succession planning.

“Succession planning must be deliberate. So you have to take the time to deliberately look at people and look at not only who can be the immediate successor but also those who can be successors down the line,” she noted.

She said businesses needed to look at “who is a possible successor in the next two or five years, and what they can do within now and that two or five years horizon to get them ready.”

“You must, however, not identify just one person to head the company but also look how to fill the other gaps that will be left in the company,” she stated.

“By this, you ensure that at the pyramid of the organisation, there are always people coming through to fill the gaps,” she added.

Succession planning start with recruitment

The Airtel Managing Director also advised companies that succession planning “starts with the recruitment of the right calibre of employees who fit perfectly into the vision and purpose of the organisation.”

“The business internally needs to be very clear on its vision and purpose, which is what they exist for and this should flow through all your activities, including recruitment, so at that point of recruitment you don’t just recruit based on qualification and experience but you look at how the person can fit into the vision of the organisation,” she added.

Communication is key

Commenting on how to effectively plan for succession, Mrs Quist pointed out that communication was very key.

She said organisations needed to orient their staff on the future and direction of the company in order for the staff members to prepare themselves to take up positions in that future.

“If the people feel that the organisation has a future, they are more likely to orient themselves towards that future and this requires effective communication,” she noted.

“The people will not see the future or the big picture if it is not communicated effectively to them,” she said.

How to groom people

Touching on how organisations could effectively groom their staff to take up higher positions, she urged companies to offer both formal and informal training to their staff.

“If you recruit someone who is new to the organisation, you must offer the person some additional training to fit into his or her new role. Once the person is comfortable and effective on the job then you can start to making plans for their future in the organisation,” she added.

Mrs Quist, however, urged individuals in organisations to take responsibility for their own training and development if they wish to climb up the ladder in their respective jobs.

“When you are assigned a mentor, you have the responsibility to sustain the mentoring relationship. You need to position yourself to be prioritised. Take responsibility for your own learning,” she stated.

“You can get yourself noticed in a beneficial way to the company. You are one of hundreds of people; do you want to get noticed or not? It’s a pyramid so you have to demonstrate that your motivation to climb up the ladder is real,” she pointed out.

Relevance of festival of ideas

Speaking on the relevance of the “Festival of ideas”, which is an annual leadership conference, she said it was extremely important for everyone to participate in it since it was a great learning ground.

“You get to share ideas and learn from each other and get to learn and hear other perspectives from other people and experiences,” she noted.

“You get to share and interact with the next generation and future leaders. Everybody hugely benefits from the festival of ideas as it helps in building new contacts and meeting new people,” she added.

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