Planning for the heir apparent (or is it still Unapparent?); lessons on succession planning in hospitality

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Monday, April 28, 2014


I AM in a vibrant and dynamic profession and more often than not, change is highly probable and anticipated every day. Innovations, trends and policies rise on a regular basis but the pursuit for service excellence is the only constant and our way of life in this industry.

Carrying on great strategic plans and projects become a dilemma for any organization when people go and are let go for a variety of reasons. Truth be told, employee turnover is a reality for any business.

The conundrum happens not when good people for abroad to seek greener pastures. It only becomes disturbing when your firm is compelled to scrape the bottom of the barrel for replacements or successors. This should not have to be a foregone conclusion in the organization. You have options to outsource and pool great talents externally, but there is something much more that you can do for your organization than reacting to turnover. You can anticipate and plan for it and this is where talent management, career development and succession planning makes a whole lot of sense for the overall continuity of your legacy... a compendium of great strategic plans, programs and policies of the hospitality business or organization carried on long after you are gone.

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The baby boomers, (i.e. those born between the years 1946 and 1964,) have retired and are lining up for retirement. When companies or organizations do not plan for this eventuality, it becomes a serious concern.

It becomes a crisis in leadership and the challenge is for management to mitigate this kind of crisis is to build a robust succession planning program that aligns current talent development with future talent/leadership needs.

Successful businesses are built by strong leadership and it is paramount for any leader or manager to understand that in order to ensure that this success is carried on is to identify and foster the next generation of leaders through coaching, mentoring, training and developing talents to enable them to be ready to take the helm when the time comes.

Many studies have supported sound succession planning in the organization. Personal succession planning is not just an issue for corporations.

Fast-growth ventures need employees who can rapidly expand their role at short notice.

Here are some of the benefits of succession planning:

1. Aligning strategic goals and human resources to enable the "right people in the right place at the right time" to achieve desired business results

2. The development of qualified pools of candidates ready to fill critical or key positions

3. Strengthen stability in leadership and other critical positions to sustain a high-performance in the organization and ensure the uninterrupted delivery of services and programs

4. Recognizing workforce renewal needs as a means of targeting necessary employee training and development

5. Facilitating individuals realize their career plans and aspirations within the firm/ organization

6. Improving employees’ ability to respond to changing environmental demands, and the

7. Opportunity for timely transference of knowledge Here are some tips that you can incorporate in your company / business policy regarding succession planning:

Step 1: Name and classify the critical positions in your organization. Critical positions are the focus of succession planning efforts. Without these positions, the department or division would be unable to effectively meet its mission/objectives. Workforce projection data or demographic analysis is essential in identifying risk areas. A risk assessment may also be conducted and compared to current and future vacancies to identify critical positions within your organization.

Step 2: Identify competencies A clear understanding of capabilities needed for successful performance in key areas and critical positions is essential for guiding learning and development plans, setting clear performance expectations, and for assessing performance. By completing the process of competency or position profiling within your organization, current and future employees gain an understanding of the key responsibilities of the position including the qualifications and behavioural and technical competencies required to perform them successfully.

Step 3: What are your succession management strategies? Now that critical positions have been identified and have been profiled for competencies, the next step is to choose from a menu of several human resource strategies, including developing internal talent pools, onboarding and recruitment to address succession planning.

Step 4: Documentation and execution for succession plans Once strategies have been identified, the next step is to document the strategies in an action plan. The Succession Planning: Action Plan provides a mechanism for clearly defining timelines and roles and responsibilities.

Step 5: Evaluation of Succession Plans To ensure that the department or division’s succession planning efforts are successful, it is important to systematically monitor workforce data, evaluate activities and make necessary adjustments. This is a question that we should answer in gauging whether or not there is an effective succession planning in the family business, firm or organization; "Name three people in your team/firm who are smarter than you." And an even better follow-up: "How are you developing those three people to take your job?" *** 'If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!' – Benjamin Franklin

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 29, 2014.

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