Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla As Binny Bansal steps down from Flipkart and Vinod Dasari quits as Ashok Leyland MD, the question of filling the hot seats rears its head again.
With no immediate candidate to fill up the vacuum created by these sudden exists, the spotlight shifts to how little time corporates actually spend on succession planning.
A strategy that needs to be well-defined and in place before any sudden exits only comes into play when a senior-level executive decides to quit the company. Experts point out that though succession planning is key to a business’ overall success, very little thought actually goes into planning for such an eventuality.
Setare Irani Degamwala, Head – People & Culture, IdeateLabs, a digital marketing company, terms succession planning a strategy “for identifying and developing future leaders of your business.”
It can be especially useful in a critical situation like when a leader leaves an organisation without a successor. “Time spent on finding a replacement or hiring the wrong replacement can lead to disastrous consequences,” Degamwala said.
Many exits tend to leave gaping holes, filling of which is a long, arduous process with a steep learning curve. All of this creates a hardship for the company, including lost productivity.
. GoAir Chief Operating Officer Jyri Strandman quit the airline a little over six months after the joined the aviation company. The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Manish Raniga had quit in August, followed by exits of other senior executives.
Similarly, Chanda Kochhar, CEO of India’s second-largest private lender, quit the organisation six months before her current tenure was to end.
Monica Agrawal, Senior Client Partner, Global Financial Services, Korn Ferry India, said, “When CEO succession is not viewed as a progressive and planned out move, the focus of the board tends to be on replacing the current CEO rather than on the long-term vision to develop a multi-generational leadership team.”
Stating that most organisations in India “still lack a structured framework for CEO succession planning,” Korn Ferry advises boards to take a proactive approach towards succession planning and develop an internal and external slate of candidates, selected after an intensive assessment and evaluation process.
As is done at L’Oreal India. Roshni Wadhwa, Director, Human Resources, L’Oreal India said career planning and succession planning are integral to the company’s talent management process.
“We integrate employees’ self-ambition and motivation into the talent management process and have a bi-annual appraisal system. Key roles are identified during talent review sessions and succession planning for those roles is locked in by way of nominating talents.”
Rajiv R, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ramco Systems, concurred. “Companies today focus on building pipelines and business funnel around their products and services, but neglect the idea of building their organisational asset: the people.”
Terming succession planning a systematic approach to identifying and training future leaders and ensuring leadership continuity at all levels, Rajiv said, “Organisations who have groomed the next in line are better equipped to take on challenges and grow in this disruptive market conditions.”