Succession management is one of the core processes in running a successful business. It is essential to executing strategy and sustaining performance over the long term. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the CEO, supported by the Executive Team and HR, to ensure the mechanisms are in place to identify successors and replace key contributors and that those processes deliver the results the business needs. In this regard, succession management is far more than just an HR process.
Succession management is a practice that originates from the leadership theories of the 1840s, evolving into executive continuity in the 1950s and into the recognisable form of succession management in the late 1980s.
Succession management, in all its many names, is essentially a continuity process. It is both an internal process and a governance requirement, which serves as a way to prevent risk to business continuity by ensuring that roles are filled and the current strategy as a whole isn’t endangered by the loss of a particular person.
In the words of CRF Chairman, Mike Haffenden, “managing succession is a critical area of competence for Chairs and Chief Executives. It embraces risk mitigation, change management, talent management, performance management and effective governance. The HR function should have a key role. It should use its expertise to provide a critical advisory and guidance role in process management, information gathering, objective assessment, and key employee development.”