Archive for the ‘Succession Planning’ Category

Next In Line.

In Succession Planning on February 28, 2011 at 2:54 am

The January 31, 2011 issue of Newsweek had Steve Jobs on the cover with the following text “STEVE JOBS’S JOB: what should companies do when their genius founders duck out. Although CEO Tim Cook is running Apple’s day to day operations,  Steve Jobs is still very much considered as its Yoda, despite alarming issues about his health. This predicament raises concerns about who will assume Steve’s job once he necessarily steps down. The cover story hounds many corporations today about super novas without a qualified shining star  to succeed them. Newsweek magazine called this “The Genius Dilemma.”

The Genius Dilemma
Filling in Steve Job’s shoes is a tall order and the company might just go along with him if his health worsens. This should serve as a good case study and an example for HR practitioners regarding Succession Planning. This process of determining the next in line for key positions is often overlooked until an unexpected and sometimes unwanted vacancy comes along.
In this post, let’s cite some reasons that ails an organization to overlook this procedure:
1. Nailing a person to a specific position.  An uninterrupted business operation or production requires a steady supply and proper utilization of four variables: Machine, Material, Method and lastly, Manpower.
For people involved in recruitment, the pressure to fill a vacant position means placing a warm body at the soonest possible time. The mandate to fill the vacancy at once, unintentionally leads to limiting the person to that position. Seldom is there time given within the hiring process to evaluate if the applicant has the skill or competence to be laterally or horizontally promoted in the future. I met an owner of a bus company who gave this advise to her HR department, she owns more than five hundred buses and employs more than a thousand people, she said “never hire a person who’s only qualified to do one job.”
2. Treating Training As An Expense. Educator, lawyer and past president of Harvard University said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Organizations often provide little or no training at all to their employees. Just like any other resources that a company may have, it’s always wise to invest in human resources. In this case, a company must invest by developing its existing talent. Deferring this investment is tantamount to preparing your employees to incompetently assume or perform a higher or existing position.
3. Cultivating A  Messiah Complex Culture. The father of modern management, Peter Drucker said: “Beware the genius manager. Management is doing a very few simple things and doing them well.”  There are times that organizations stumble upon a highly motivated and intelligent employee who takes the cudgels to reform, energize and organize the company back to profitability or to some level that meets management’s expectations. In the short term, this employee’s contribution is vital but the organization should initiate a program that would duplicate the skill and competency of this employee on others. . Let’s keep in mind that there may only be one Messiah but He had apostles too.
Last year I was interviewed applicants for the position of HR Manager. This person would be the second in command of the division that I headed so I was looking for someone whom I could easily  convey my ideas for the company. I also had other things in mind that I was looking for in an HR Manager such as someone who could replace me. I didn’t have any plans of leaving the company but looking for someone who could replace me meant this candidate would not only meet my standards but even surpass it. It  also meant another qualified person to pursue the best interest of the company. During this search, I always ended the interview by asking this question: “How long would it take you to replace me?”  It was quite an awkward question but I wanted to see how confident these applicants were of their skills to assume a higher responsibility. 


Soon after I found one who came from the academe but had satisfactory exposure doing consultancy work with other companies. I’m glad that we got her because soon after she joined the company I had to make a choice of leaving the company for another endeavor.
Until next time, let’s educate our minds.