The Road to Agile Succession Planning is Off the Beaten Path

The Road to Agile Succession Planning is Off the Beaten Path
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In this dynamic and rapidly changing environment, business leaders need to find effective solutions for their organizations. While it’s important to ensure growth and productivity, companies also need to be flexible. Companies can prepare and establish a more resilient organization by adopting an agile succession plan. 

Conventional methods may have succeeded in the past, but they are limited. They’re rigid, and their top-down methodologies won’t always thrive in a world that demands flexibility and adaptability.  

Through agile succession planning, your business can anticipate change, adopt new systems and technologies, foster a more forward-thinking organization, and adopt a growth and development mindset. 

 

What is Succession Planning? 

Succession planning is about identifying key roles and grooming future leaders. The aim isn’t always immediate hiring but nurturing potential candidates for top management roles. It ensures smooth leadership transitions during changing times. 

However, conventional succession planning is often bogged down by inflexible practices. It could be based on an individual’s tenure, experience, and credibility. While preparing individuals for the role seems to have been a very effective method in the past, it still follows a top-down approach. This involves training select individuals for the role and developing their skills to match the role they’ll soon take.  

Traditional succession planning lacks the agility that today’s market demands. For one, it fails to consider other potential leaders that may be more suitable for the role, effectively missing out on opportunities for growth and greater success.  

This is where Agile Succession Planning becomes an ideal methodology. Companies should adapt to changing times, not go against them.  

More on: The Agile Advantage: Leveraging Hybrid Cloud for Scalability, Efficiency, and Innovation 

 

Making Your Succession Plan Agile 

The Agile method is not always about what you do but what you envision and practice within the organization. To avoid leader mismatches, the agile method focuses on developing leaders to face future challenges and help maintain a strong brand image.  

By looking for potential leaders through an agile method, you can ensure your company remains strong in times of uncertainty and increasing demands. Here’s how you can develop agility in your succession plans.  

 

1. Don’t Look for Single Successors 

Finding the best person for the role has always been an ideal way of filling it, not just in leadership roles but even in rank-and-file positions, which is why this traditional method is still being practiced today. 

However, roles evolve depending on the current demand, industry, society, and uncertainties. Many factors affect a business, and having a single successor won’t be enough. Instead, business leaders have to recognize the potential of every individual and nurture them. Focus on grooming high-performing people that could significantly benefit the business.  

While there’s still success in finding the best successor for the role, it still undervalues many things.  

  • What if the person’s style doesn’t fit? 
  • What if the successor prefers a different role? 
  • What if there is someone more willing to accomplish the tasks? 
  • What if someone in your company is more capable? 

Looking at McKinsey & Company’s practice, they elect global managing partners every three years through voting.1 This practice has made the company very successful up to this day. By choosing the right individuals, they maintain global competitiveness and ensure the company’s overall health.  

 

2. Your People Are Key to Risk Management 

Another downside to traditional methods is electing leaders based on their experiences and expertise by choosing from external sources. While there are talented leaders out there who could empower your business, this overshadows the potential your company already has.  

Instead, evaluate your current workforce and identify potential candidates for leadership roles. Assess your existing leadership to determine if they can manage changing work dynamics, market requirements, and business acumen.  

According to Huntswood, a financial service provider, giving contractors key roles proved vital in their success.1 In fact, one individual even became a manager who started at the age of 16 as a contractor. Some of their contractors are now even integral to the process, and losing them would pose risks to their clients.  

 

3. Learning and Development Doesn’t Stop 

Succession planning is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and evaluation. This includes tracking the progress of succession candidates, adjusting action plans as needed, and reassessing the organization’s talent needs and priorities over time.  

Cultivating a culture of continuous learning is pivotal in transforming people into influential leaders and fostering an environment where multiple candidates are groomed for leadership roles. 

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, explains that leadership roles require stages of expertise for the business to succeed.2 The reason he left LinkedIn was to give way to further scaling the business line, eventually partnering with Jeff Weiner. Jeff, who succeeded him, was more adept in organizational growth and had the product vision to serve the company. After 10 years of leading the company, it grew from 400 to 10,000 employees. 

The goal is not to lead the company for years to come but to ensure the company’s success despite not being the frontman. In the same article, Jeff Bezos was mentioned, who also left Amazon, and likely attributed his decision to keep the company thriving for centuries to come.  

Every business stage is different, and identifying the role of each phase will help business leaders determine whether it’s time to find a rightful successor. 

Related Article: 5 Ways Leaders Can Foster a Purpose-Driven Company Culture 

 

4. Making People Stay 

Without the stability of exceptional talent within an organization, finding a successor can be challenging. An organization needs to focus on low attrition rates to ensure the best people stick around.  

When experiencing high attrition, find out why people leave and spot any patterns via exit interviews. You can also conduct proactive surveys and ask about their satisfaction and happiness at work.  

This information will help you assess what you need to change and create a more welcoming environment where you can nurture future leaders. Whether it’s the current management, lack of incentives and development, or overwhelming workloads, finding the root cause is vital in creating loyal and fulfilled team members.  

Related Article: Unlocking the Power of Connection: Strategies to Build Strong Workplace Relationships 

 

5. It’s a Collective Effort 

One of the fundamental principles of agile succession planning is its emphasis on collaboration. By involving a diverse range of stakeholders in the process, organizations can tap into a wealth of knowledge and perspectives, ultimately leading to better decisions and outcomes. Collaboration isn’t just about working together; it’s about leveraging the organization’s collective intelligence to identify and nurture future leaders.  

 

6. Align and Empower Your Resources 

Perhaps most importantly, agile succession planning is about empowerment. It’s about creating a culture where individuals are encouraged to take ownership of their development and career progression. Leaders are not simply appointed based on tenure or seniority but are recognized for their potential to drive innovation and growth. 

By embracing agility, organizations not only weather the storms but emerge stronger and more resilient to face challenges and uncertainties. It becomes imperative to embrace agility as a core practice within the organization, ensuring growth, collaboration, and success.  

Agile succession planning needs the organization to be open to change, adapt to new circumstances, and embrace uncertainties. By being flexible, leaders can be more resilient to change and more willing to experiment with new ideas.  

 

Implementing Your Agile Succession Plan 

As leaders, you need to adapt innovative strategies to remain competitive, ensuring market share, greater efficiency, and unprecedented growth.  

Agile Succession Planning is about cultivating a growth mindset that will ensure a business’s continuity for generations. It’s about acknowledging that the future is uncertain and that other suitable leaders fit the role. In changing times, agility is necessary for greater success. Instead of relying solely on tenure and experience, be agile and prioritize potential over credentials.  

 

References 

  1. Welsh, John. “5 Case Studies In Successful Succession Planning.” Forbes, 17 Jan. 2019, www.forbes.com/5-case-studies-in-successful-succession-planning. 
  2. Hoffman, Reid. “Leadership and CEO Succession.” Greylock, 3 Sep. 2021, greylock.com/reid-hoffman/reid-hoffman-jeff-bezos-leadership-and-ceo-succession. 
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