Effective succession management

Top tips by International consultancy DDI

A DDI survey of more than 1,000 executives and HR professionals found that
in most cases, organisations prefer to fill more than two-thirds of senior
leadership positions from within the company. Over the years, working with
19,000 organisations worldwide, DDI has identified the most important drivers
that provide effective succession management. Here are the top 10:

Have an up-to-date succession management system

Individuals need to be developed at an organisational level rather than for
specific positions, and then matched to the most appropriate positions as
vacancies arise. Meaningful, measurable goals associated with tangible
succession management outcomes, should be set in place.

Know all the high potential people within a company

CEOs should be encouraged to look throughout their entire organisation for
candidates suitable for accelerated development instead of solely relying on
their personal knowledge. Again, systems must be in place to find these people,
particularly those who don’t typically interact with senior executives. But
CEOs should get to know the high-potential people within their organisations as
well as possible.

Have common standards across your organisation

Effective organisations have set up systems to identify exceptionally
talented individuals throughout their organisations, especially those working
internationally. The criteria which constitutes high potential needs to be
agreed upon to create transparency and help line managers and divisional HR
people to spot talent. It is important to attach similar recognition to
previously unknown leaders from newly-acquired segments of the firm.

The best people are not always the ones who get the most meaningful early

Not all potential leaders have equal access to the best job and development
assignments, or the opportunity to take on significant responsibility early in
their careers. To level the playing field for all of an organisation’s
prospective leaders, the evaluation of individuals with high potential should
be based on core, basic skills enhanced by well-crafted evaluation.

Treat candidates as individuals

Once individuals are identified as having high potential, their development
needs must be diagnosed so that they can be given the experience and training
necessary to prepare them for success at senior levels.

Ensure that development plans are implemented

Ideally, a development-planning discussion would be combined with setting
job objectives at the start of each new assignment. Once given their tasks, a
deadline, and told of the support they can expect, those high potential
individuals will be able to determine which of their development needs can be

Never assume short-term issues are more important

The best companies act on the belief that their future depends on the people
they develop. And many make time for succession management activities because
they believe that both their boards and the stock market are increasingly
concerned about the depth of talent in a company.

Understand that diversity can’t be left to chance

Once a succession management system is in place, diversity goals must be set
and aggressively re-inforced through the CEO’s behaviour. Leaders must
communicate the need for corporate diversity, but being involved in planning
and championing the development of those with high potential sends out a
stronger message.

Let people learn from their mistakes

When an individual makes a wrong decision, it must be considered as an
opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Fostering an atmosphere where people
can make mistakes and learn from the experience is an important part of a
successful management programme.

Remain patient

Remember: just as it takes time to build a client base or penetrate new
markets, people – even the brightest and most talented – need time to grow and


Comments are closed.