Preparar a los líderes del mañana en un sector complejo

Succession plans


Abstract goal

A company which is expanding within an environment undergoing substantial transformation may lack adequate information regarding what talent they possess in a market where replacement is difficult.


To manage a plan of succession for critical posts within the company in order to guarantee sustained growth and continuity within the organization. This would be achieved through the strategic identification and development of suitable leaders to take over.


A plan of succession consistent with the general strategy and forming part of an integrated talent management model which allows, the potential of each professional to be broken down and thus to create a map of the organizational risks and plan for the succession to critical posts.

When a company is evolving within a complex environment, the business side of things usually takes first place. However, the key to success lies in the people – they are the engine that drives any project. The following case study analyzes the strategies put in place by a Human Resources department to map out the future needs of the company, establishing the right time to cover any critical position and who to place in that post.

When we analyze succession plans across a range of businesses, we realize very few have actually got one in place. Similarly, there are very few companies that have carried out an in-depth assessment of the consequences that an all-too-improvised approach to filling the gaps in management positions may have on their income statement.

However, in countries like Spain, boards are long-lived, with 46% of their members being over 65 years old. When it comes to passing on the torch, many firms often bring in successors without giving due thought to the process, this can lead to disastrous consequences.

Succession planning is the best tool available for businesses to have information at their fingertips regarding the talent of their staff. This enables them to devise and implement training schemes for the best candidates, thus ensuring positions are filled by individuals with the right profiles.

A snapshot of the company in 2010

In 2010 the Human Resources department of the company faces a complex situation:

  • On the business side of things, a change in the shareholders base has taken place, together with a transformation of the structures and departments and the opening stages of an internationalization process.
  • The Human Resources management must plan ahead for the needs of the company in the medium-term and adapt what is necessary in a radically different culture.
  • The means to that end are clearly lacking. There had been a significant generational change in the staff team and the current information about them is inappropriate for the task, purely CVs on paper. All this within a particularly complex sector where talent is absolutely critical.

The leadership model

The Human Resources managers in the company set an ambitious goal – they intend to change its leadership model, design a talent map and digitalize information to make analysis easier.

  • The plan of succession is not designed to be a contingency plan, but rather gives a lateral view, drawing a map through which the company can know where talent is lacking, which professionals may be able to fill those positions and how best to prepare the career of those successors.
  • The leadership model is designed with the company’s new goals and culture in mind, the latter being based on values such as integrity, collaboration, individual demand, exemplarity and availability.
  • Two parallel plans are set in motion, one for executives and the other for critical positions. The latter, although in mid-level posts within the organization chart, have a strategic importance, are difficult replace and have a longer and a steeper learning curve.
  • Within the plan, 15% of the personnel undergo assessment. This analysis is steered towards learning their expectations, mobility, potential etc. From the outset, the company applies a set of objective criteria to decide which talented individuals it will work alongside– degree-level qualifications and languages are two of the essential requirements.
  • Throughout the plan, internal communication plays a vital role so that the professionals may be able to understand their goals, what the consequences of the plan might be for them, and that that rules are absolutely transparent, the criteria objective and apply to everyone equally.

Current situation

After setting the plan in motion, the company has a clear road map, from which it is possible to see its needs and the individuals who can cover each critical position.

This map allows them to:

  • Anticipate potential movements, as the candidates will have participated in the preparation scheme, which includes training and performing in different positions across the organization.
  • Possess thorough information regarding risks and identify positions where available talent exists, or where in-house talent is not sufficient to cover future development.
  • Create a flexible system, which is able to be revised every two years to include any new professionals so that all can enjoy fully up-to-date information.
  • Plan the required training and what movements will be necessary in order to prepare the best candidates.
  • Digitalize the staff profile, making all decisions easier and quicker.
  • Have the best professionals in the posts where they are needed most.

The key to success

The plan of succession worked for the company because…

  • The board has been fully supportive, not only overseeing but being practically engaged in the process.
  • A great deal of work has gone into keeping free and up-to-date information available to all personnel, allowing the professional within the organization to understand the methodology and goals of the plan of succession.
  • The potential frustration of professionals left out of the plan for one reason or other has been properly managed, leaving a door open for them to enter the plan in the future – individuals who may need to polish their language skills, who are temporarily unavailable for relocation, etc.

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