Free «Succession Planning » Essay

Succession Planning

Businesses around the world are continually pressing themselves up for unexpected future with increasing volatility in technology, unpredictable business environment evidenced in the recent global crisis, and the increasing turnover rate of employees. Increased turnover rates means that skills and experiences are transferred to other competing businesses and this deprives a company of those skills (Saporito and Winum 2012, p. 18).

The human resource departments in many business organisations have recently come up with new strategies like succession planning and performance management. Performance management denotes a holistic approach whereby the overall organizational work performance can be developed through individual efforts within a team framework. It is also a way of encouraging exemplary performance by regularly communicating the expectations of the company through definition of roles in a defined competence framework and institution of realistic targets in a company. Within this framework, an important aspect is the talent development that forms the foundation for performance management. This paper discusses two different schools of thought in relation to talent development.

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Talent Development as an Evolutionary Activity

Talent development encompasses the process of recruiting, on-boarding, developing, and strategising the activities of the organisation. Functional activities within a talent development framework actually make investments in areas that are likely to return highly for the business. Such areas include highly performing employees, highly knowledgeable workers, and high-potential individuals. According to Elegbe (2010, p. 7), talent development is an important undertaking by any company that intends to secure itself against unpredictable business environment. As postulated by this school of thought, developing talents within employee workforce is facilitated by the environmental factors that are prevailing at the time.

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However, this school of thought argues that inasmuch as talent development is an important aspect of contemporary business management, human resource department should embrace talent development from a bystander point of view. This means that talent development is evolutionary in nature and is thus shaped by the environmental forces. For instance, employees working in Information Technology firm would be forced to improve the working skills to adjust to the skills of employees of other competing firms’ exhibit. An attempt to nurture talent in a business is thus seen as an effort in futility because employees may not be embraced with the company’s effort (Rothwell 2010, p.10).

A classical example that describes talent development in relation to this school of thought is battle between Yahoo! and its competitor Google. Though Yahoo! is struggling to establish itself as a reputable search engine, its business environment is not favourable at least for now. This is regardless of the continuous effort to develop talent within its workforce. The uncertainty of business environment at Yahoo! has served the interest of Google, its main competitor, by absorbing the employees that leave the company. This may explain why talent development should be evolutionary and self-initiating on the premise that if Yahoo’s employees developed their own skills through personal strategy, the company would not be feeling the pinch of training employees who later leave to work for a competing company. Characteristically, businesses that do not benefit from talent development need to devise new ways to strengthen their brand against their competitors if they are to compete for consumers’ increasingly dynamic attention.

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One of the most outstanding features of this school of thought is the value attached to succession planning. The contentment of this school of thought is that rarely do businesses employ top leadership from within its workforce. It is assumed that there are many relevant leadership skills out there and therefore succession planning should not be an issue of great concern since if a position falls vacant, the company will simply advertise it in the media and get the best skills. This approach to succession seems to have worked previously, especially with the globalisation and technological advancement that have both allowed transfer of labour across borders. However, businesses are more and more aiming at the niche point where employee skills are becoming more specialised. This means that even top management will need to be versed with the business operations that work well for a particular company (Atwood 2007, p. 45). An example is the recent leadership at the mobile app company, Apple Inc, which is necessitated by the death of its flamboyant president Steve Jobs. Evidently, that was unexpected but the company seemed to had been prepared for such an eventuality through developing managerial talents for other employees. The naysayers predicted doom for the high-flying company but after months into the new management, Apple Inc has emerged as the most profitable company in the world (Armstrong 2012, p. 21).

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Talent Development as a Sustained Effort

Companies are changing their business models to suit new market trends, thus underscoring the need to align employees to best suit these trends. This is not an easy task, especially with the dynamic nature of the modern business environment supported by globalisation and technology. To this end, talent development has become an activity that is intentionally embarked on by the human resource so that the business gets prepared not only for sudden eventuality like death or employee turnover, but also gets the best from its workforce. As such, business recognises that proper management can be bred from within; saving the company from hassles that are brought about by the hiring process.

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The school of thought that argues for conscious sustained talent development programmes points to a number of benefits that come with such venture. Rothwell (2010, p.14) observes that talent development aims at enhancing communication between management and the employees since management will need to be in touch with its labour force from time to time. Employees’ morale and their adoption to changing environment are important and therefore talent development programmes will help the management to nurture these crucial factors. For instance, dissatisfied employees of Normal Fixtures who had downed their tools citing lack of motivation returned to work after the company management announced a talent development programme that aimed at rewarding the efforts of the employees. Another illustration of the importance of talent management is the recent appointment of the president of Apple Inc, whose skills and experience at the company have enabled him to remain focused on the company’s business models, delivering result beyond the expectations of many analysts.

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From the two schools of thought, I believe that talent development in any business organisation need to be a deliberate undertaking that management pursues. This is because talent development has the potential helping to identify the flaws that the business may be facing such as redundancy of employees who are still on business payroll. In addition, it can help the employees to identify their career plans within the organisation. This results into the increasing of opportunities for highly skilled employees.


In conclusion, talent development in businesses is thus becoming an important activity that management cannot overlook. It should thus be deliberately implemented rather than leaving it to evolutionary forces to control how employees develop their talent. A deliberate approach to talent development will ensure that the company gets the kind of skills that are necessary to its operations. Similarly, a deliberate programme to develop talent will focus on strategic plans that the company intends to implement within a given period and therefore this programme is likely to contribute to the achievement of strategic programmes of the company. 

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