Succession Planning and Career Management


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Succession planning is the process of determining and developing internal staff members of a company with the motive of filling key leadership positions of the organisation, this in turn acts as a development tool for the business (Junghans,et. al., 2005). The process of succession planning can be beneficial for the overall growth and development of the workforce leading directly to favourable outcomes for the organisation (Cohen, 2003). These outcomes include developing potential successors for key positions that are present within the workplace (Kimmel, 2009). On the other hand, the application of the concept of career management is also an effective tool for the growth and development of the workforce in order to manage the talent of an organization (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). Career management is the activity in which organisations work to develop the careers of their HR professionals and employees (Schuler and Jackson, 2008). Both practices maximise the availability of an experienced and skilled workforce. Furthermore, career management ensures lifelong learning in the workforce, which helps employees to achieve organisational objectives in the given time frame (Fujioka and et. al., 2006).

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The main purpose of this essay is to examine the importance of succession planning and career development in organisations by covering the overall aspect of how corporations ensure personnel development, by introducing best practices at the workplace. It also explains how enabling continuous learning among employees can help fill higher positions with experienced employees from within organisations (Innocenti, et. al., 2013). Similarly, career development programs are also explained; and how they help in resourcing and better management of employees in organisations (Mellor and Webster, 2013).

Significance of succession planning and career management for HR professionals

Khan and Sheikh (2012) argue that succession planning and career management practices are directly related to HR professionals; through which a company prepares itself to face challenges in the future in relation to the retention of employees and the inclusion of future leaders in organisational success, By identifying future leaders early on organisations which can help organisations minimise risks when facing turbulences, thereby providing a strategic direction (Bell, 2012). Moreover, this saves companies costs and time as external recruitment is not required (Briscoe and Schuler, 2004). Furthermore, through the deployment of succession planning, talented people in organisations can be effectively utilised, aiding the retention of employees, whilst reducing external resourcing (Edenborough, 2007). Career management also plays an integral part of succession planning as the workforce undergoes continuous learning and on the job training (Armstrong, 2006). These two aspects work together in order to determine the well-being of the employees and the corporation (Innocenti, et, al. 2013). However, if both are not incorporated efficiently and effectively, these can create non-monetary costs for the company such as timing and service delivery, thus the role of human resources is vital (Belout and Gauvreau, 2004. In a similar aspect, if succession and career planning are implemented in a poor manner then the performance of a company will deteriorate therefore, in spite of having few limitations, succession and career planning in the context of resourcing are considered to be useful internal recruitment sources (Lewis and Heckman, 2006).

According to Hassan (2007) career development programs which cater to the professional needs of employees with ample opportunities for growth serve as a motivation factor, thereby increasing satisfaction levels and employee performance (Chand and Katou, 2007). This will also help retain staff, which enhances overall organisational performance (Hassan, 2007). This requires continuous corrective actions to be taken so that companies can work in favour of its employees, including HR professionals (Cassidy-Rice, 2014). However, the main responsibility of HR professionals is to hire staff members, coordinate promotions and reassignments, manage employee relations and administer pay along with benefits (Khan and Sheikh, 2012)

Chansler and Swimdass (2010) elucidate that Apart from the responsibility of HR professionals, talent management is regarded as the key to success, through retaining the skilled workforce, it is possible for business enterprises to work for the betterment of their staff members and thus enhance their satisfaction levels. Furthermore, succession planning has many advantages which every business should consider, as managements support in determining successors’ leadership needs; assistance in the development of strategic HR leadership plans and supports in building relationships (Cohen, 2003). The advantages of succession planning explain the importance of fully utilising an organisation’s human capital in an appropriate manner, as well as determining effective ways through which career development plans can be carried out in order to develop HR professionals who play a significant role in the company. This way, businesses can easily meet the expectations of their target markets (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin and Cardy, 2004).

There are different models of succession planning, such as planned transition and deterioration in confidence, as well as a continuous process of corporations to fill higher positions in the future by promoting appropriate candidates internally. At this juncture, three different types of succession planning are; benchmark, look to the future and keep it dynamic (Schuler and Jackson, 2008). The first practice is having a benchmark for performance management, under which HR professionals continuously evaluate employees, by gathering detailed information related to those who are performing well and have the potential to fill higher vacant positions. Decisions are taken with the consent of board members, which ensures the inclusion of an appropriate person at a higher position such as the CEO or HR manager (Chansler and Swamidass, 2010). This model proves to be effective in preparing in-depth profiles of potential leaders; however, employers need to set appropriate benchmarks as per the requirements of organisational goals and culture. This will assist organisations in avoiding uncertainty as skilled employees will be available for future posts (Cohen, 2003).

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The second model of succession planning is to look to the future under which boards as well as HR professionals look for the best leader including competitive organisations. In this case, HR professionals identify the best people who possess the potential to take on high responsibilities. These employees should be motivated by applying several motivational tools so that the talent can be retained in the company. This process takes extensive time to fulfil future growth and vision (Fujioka, et. al., 2006). The third approach is keep it dynamic under which HR professionals contentiously change their succession plan in accordance with the risk profile and leadership knowledge. Continually updating plans enables jobs to be carried out effectively, thereby achieving long and short term objectives (Gomez-Mejia, et al. 2004). At this juncture, it is very important for employers to assess the uncertainty which could take place (Hassan, 2007). The future orientation succession model is the most effective, as it allows management to prepare lists of potential candidates who can fill higher positions, which will in turn attract employees and create a positive work environment (Junghans et. al., 2005).

Steps in succession planning

In order to implement practices of succession planning, business enterprises follow a series of steps which start with HR planning, to determine the skills required and predict how many staff members are leaving the company for unavoidable reasons, such as retirement, ill health, death and personal reasons (Armstrong, 2006). The next stage is associated with determining the need for leaders for higher positions and developing lists of candidates who possess enough qualities to fill the vacancies. In this stage, the qualities and skills of staff members are considered. Information related to individual potentials will be gathered through recent job analysis and the analysis of the personal abilities and career interests of a particular leader. It will help to determine individual growth through promotions, transfer or providing a more challenging job as well as job security (Buxman and Wehrenberg, 2012). This stage is regarded to be the most important, where the actual development of the professionals working in the company takes place (Belout and Gauvreau, 2004).

The next stage develops managers, through activities such as job rotation, further education, international assignments, training and development of HR professionals linked with their performance (Edenborough, 2007). Ultimately identification of the career path takes place; HR professionals and board members make effective plans so that the level of skills and knowledge of employees can be enhanced easily. These are some of the key stages considered in succession planning by which companies and HR professionals can easily find suitable candidates to fulfil a vacant position (Chansler and Swamidass, 2010).

Through my experience as an HR advisor in a placement in which I sourced myself, I was able to acquire different kinds of knowledge in a generalist capacity. I am currently a sales advisor for a fast-paced retail branch. My current employer is aware that I hold an undergraduate business degree and am currently undertaking an MSc in HRM thereby, allowing me to attend HR training courses and leadership programs which the company runs to broaden my knowledge and specialise my skills in the field. These programs supported my career advancement when an internal vacancy for the position of a Regional Training Manager for Scotland came up and I was encouraged to apply by the management and got to the end stage of the application process. Although I did not get the position I had applied for, I was offered an in-store training position which boosted my confidence. On reflection, although my own initiative may have helped me, the support given to me by my employer and the growth opportunities have motivated me to remain in my position for a long term, with the view of taking up a director’s position in the future. Through the concept of succession planning my career goals have been made easier to accomplish as it has allowed me to focus on my main target, namely a career in Human Resources

There are two succession planning approaches; choosing internal candidates and recruitment of new candidates externally. These approaches play an important role in selecting the right person for the vacant position in the company (Hassan, 2007). Selecting an internal candidate for a vacant position saves cost and time. This is due to their awareness of the policies, culture and environment of the organisation (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). On the other hand, external recruitment to fill high positions requires the company to devote extensive time and other related resources in preparing the new employees (Matsumura and Shin, 2005).

Where I used to work, I filled the position of a business associate; later on, the management provided me a non-monetary reward in the form of extended training. However, my succession planning started before that, when I was assigned to provide daily guidance to a fellow colleague (Armstrong, 2006). During that particular tenure, I faced many problems related to time management and knowledge because I had to manage my work as well as the person whose responsibility was given to me. Therefore, I believe career development is another aspect wherein employees are provided a chance to develop their overall personality, thus, organisations should provide several kinds of learning opportunities for continuous development for employees (Bell, 2012). Also, employees must use their spare time wisely to access other sources of information, to supplement their learning. Furthermore, I expect that most corporations should support their workforce by providing regular training and assessing employees’ performance on the basis of a set of communicated evaluation criteria. This can have a positive effect on the company irrespective of an internal or external approach to recruitment. For this reason, employers must effectively choose the approach they are taking in order to leave a positive impact on current and potential employees. However, an integrated approach would be best as it will attract a pool of talented employees and managers will have several alternatives to choose from when filling a position (Cassidy-Rice, 2014). Furthermore, this will motivate existing employees and thus performance can be enhanced (Junghans and et. al., 2005).

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Therefore, it can be argued that career development is beneficial in terms of organisational growth (Edenborough, 2007), it can enhance the learning of the workforce and provide the opportunity to develop them within the business (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). It can help corporations build a strong position in the marketplace and create a unique identity in the market to attract employees (Hassan, 2007). Apart from this, career development is the key to long-term growth, because in the long run, a company can effectively reduce the cost of production by retaining highly skilled employees thereby enhancing the flow of production (Junghans,et. al., 2005). Thus, by gaining information regarding career development programs I have effectively implemented in-store champions with everyone partaking a basic qualification in their given area. In terms of my own development, I am undertaking a CIPD qualification to gain in-depth knowledge with regard to the proper management of human capital in the organisation. Furthermore, the qualification assisted me in understanding the needs of employees whilst using effective strategies to motivate employees through continuous learning and career development. This has also brought improvements to my personality as I am able to handle resistance in a more effective manner. All organisations should ensure that all their HR professionals are members of the CIPD or possess an advanced level of qualification as it helps to enhance the knowledge related to HR and also the level of professionalism in the workplace (Carbery and Cross, 2013).


The aforementioned discussion concludes that the practices of succession planning and career management are very important in current business environments. This is because they create a positive image of the organisation among potential employees (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). Moreover, it can also be concluded that employees are highly influenced and motivated by succession planning and career management as both act as non-monetary incentives for existing and prospective employees. This is due to their perceptions of having good opportunities to grow within the organisation (Schuler and Jackson, 2008). This will make it easier for corporations to assess the potential of employees and provide training for them in order to attain higher positions and perform at their best (Belout and Gauvreau, 2004). This contributes towards ensuring the existence of an appropriate work culture, and meeting the expectations of existing employees in the most effective manner (Lewis and Heckman, 2006). Career management or development programs are the key to motivating current employees and enabling them to contribute to the success of the company in the best way they can (Kimmel, 2009).


  • Armstrong, M., 2006. Strategic Human Resource Management A Guide to Action. Thomson-Shore Inc.
  • Bell, G., 2012. Playing the HR field: An interview with R. Wayne Pace, founding president of the Academy of Human Resource Development, and author of Human Resource Development: The Field. Human Resource Management International Digest. 20(7). pp. 39–41.
  • Belout, A. and Gauvreau, C., 2004. Factors influencing project success: the impact of human resource management.International journal of project management. 22(1). pp.1-11.
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  • Chand, M. and Katou, A. A., 2007. The impact of HRM practices on organisational performance in the Indian hotel industry. Employee Relations. 29(6). pp.576 – 594.
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