Have a rant… Succession planning

It is all very well for Caroline Dunk to provide a list of things HR should do to overcome the perception that HR is not very good at succession planning in ‘Picking up the pieces’ (Personnel Today, 24 October). But when her four steps to overcoming this perception have been preceded by the statement that “succession planning has always been neglected in favour of other priorities”, it is difficult to generate the desire to read on.

The ‘other priorities’ do not simply melt away because you decide to give a second thought to succession planning. They are still there, lurking in the background, waiting to strike. They are sitting on my shoulder right now, weighing me down and sapping me of my enthusiasm even as I write this.

I would love to devote more time to succession planning, to HR strategy, to having a lunch break even. But without the support of those at the top, and without the ‘human resources’ to provide the HR admin that the organisation demands, it’s difficult to find the time.

While sensible, structured succession planning is something that HR would want to push for and would obviously have a crucial role in delivering, it is not up to HR to drive the process – that responsibility rests with the board. And if there is an HR director on the board, then I would hope that succession planning was already part of the mix.

Sadly, just like other people, HR directors are often vain, egotistical and paranoid individuals who will do everything to protect their own position by toeing the company line – regardless of whether it’s actually any good for the people, or the business.


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