Firms ignore succession risks

Too many UK organisations are putting the future of their business at risk
by ignoring clear succession planning, warns a Work Foundation report.

According to its survey of nearly 200 HR professionals, only a quarter identify
and groom internal candidates as successors for senior posts.

And nine out of 10 respondents report they would not have a suitable
internal candidate to take over if a key member of staff left.

The study also reveals that employers are doing little to try and address
the white male bias within their senior management tier. Four out of 10
organisations do not monitor for sex or ethnic discrimination.

Patrick Burns, director of advocacy at the Work Foundation, was disappointed
that so many organisations do not have clear and comprehensive succession
planning policies in place.

He said: "Succession planning is a key element of disaster planning. If
a senior person leaves suddenly, and there is no obvious successor, the firm’s
share price and competitive advantage can be irrevocably damaged."

He added that demographics provide another compelling reason for improved
succession planning, with half of all senior posts predicted to become vacant
in the next five years as the baby boomer generation retires.

Only 13 per cent of organisations have a clear succession plan linked to
strategy, although 78 per cent expect to make it a high priority in the next
two to three years.

Respondents list honesty, effective communication, encouraging teamwork and
strong interpersonal skills as the senior management skills they most value.

By Ben Willmott

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