Organisational Resilience & Succession Webinar - Outcome
How do South African experts build organisational resilience? How do they design and deliver effective succession planning strategies? See the key outcomes from Lumenii's live panel discussion, Building Organisational Resilience via Succession Planning:
Key Outcomes from the Webinar and Panel Discussion:
Succession Planning helps Organisations Systematically Build their Resilience
Organisational resilience was defined by Jaintheran Naidoo as the critical element that differentiates between organisations that thrive in times of challenge and those that struggle to survive.
He discussed four components that characterise resilient companies: "Firstly, it's all about anticipating challenges in the future. While we can't exactly predict what these will be, we can prepare by putting some plans in place. By creating a plan, we know that we can respond to these challenges by taking action at the right moment. And when that plan is actually unfolding, we understand that it's not going to be static. Things are going to evolve, and we need to adapt in response to change."
According to Linda Roos, "a resilient organisation is one that not only bounces back from setbacks but can also bounce forward. For me, it's also about building an organisation with very high social capital. If you've got those two things in place and you can marry them with a really good succession strategy, it gives you a greater level of certainty that your organisation is going to be resilient in the face of adversity."
"Where we rely on blood donors, any small change externally can lead to huge pressure to deliver on our mission. Having the right people and culture to deliver is critical. Succession planning is a key element in building strong teams, promoting from within, retaining knowledge and building long-term stakeholder relationships to leverage from in times of difficulty."
- Ravi Reddy
Resilient Organisations Rely on Agile People and Agile Teams
To build a culture of adaptability and resilience, research supports the important role of Learning Agility, which is closely related to resilience and can be operationalised, measured, developed and benchmarked as part of succession planning.
Agility plays a large role in ooba's succession roll-out. Linda Roos notes that "we've got several criteria to determine readiness for succession including our KPIs, 360’s and management potential. However, if I had to pick only one, it would be Learning Agility. Agility for me is absolutely essential in determining the right successor for a role. You have to have somebody who is capable of developing new, effective behaviour in the face of change. It's less about the competencies that you have now, but rather about the competencies you're going to be able to cultivate as the business changes."
"By identifying agile individuals, we can also build agile leadership, agile organisations and ultimately, organisational resilience."- Jaintheran Naidoo
Tailor-Make your Succession Strategy to the Needs of your Organisation
Ashnie Muthusamy is the published author of "Succession Management: Definite Do's and Detrimental Don'ts". She shared some of her key do's and don'ts from the book, foremost of which is to clearly understand and define why you're doing succession planning.
"What is the purpose? What are the benefits for your organisation? Because you have to build a business case and get leadership buy in, you need to consider how it is ultimately going to impact on your business revenue and mitigate risks.
You should embrace the succession philosophy that works for your organisation and start with a very clear, simple process. Don't cut and paste something that looks like best practice, but doesn't make sense for your particular industry or your particular business."
I think the other key thing for me is don't just think that succession management is the key bullet. You have to have other supporting HR processes, such as retention, engagement, strategies, career management, and so on."
Succession has a Significant Impact on Mitigating Talent Risks
Ravi Reddy gave some examples of the impact he has seen since rolling out succession at SANBS. "I think it's best to start with myself. I started in SANBS as a technician and progressed through various roles, mostly recently as Chief Operations Officer. As part of our succession planning process, I was identified as a potential successor. So, when our previous CEO left about two years ago, I was given the opportunity to become the CEO.
More recently, our Medical Director left. As we'd been very busy with succession planning, we were very quickly able to promote an internal candidate. The Medical Director role within our organisation requires a certain set of skills, and it's very difficult to employ someone from outside to fill the position immediately. What has been great for us is that, after we filled those positions, we also had a talent pipeline in place for other roles within medical, operations etc. that we used to further grow people from within."
Ashnie Muthusamy also illustrated the long-term value of effective succession planning at Sun International. "Our previous CEO was ready now to move onto something else. And for us, it was such an easy transition because we had been actually developing the CFO from a succession perspective and he had all the necessary information. He was involved in all the key projects, mergers, acquisitions, etc. When the CEO left, we already knew who was going to be the next CEO, as well as who was going to be the successor for the CFO role."
Succession has a Significant Impact on the Employee Value Proposition
Beyond the organisational level, the panelists also discussed the impacts they have seen at an employee level.
Ashnie Muthusamy noted that Sun International's preparation and planning played a significant role during the shutdown of the hospitality industry at the height of COVID-19. "Some business units were closed for up to six months. One of our saving graces was the work that we had done in the succession management space and on our culture, ensuring that people understood that they have a career in the organisation. That helped a lot in terms of retention during the crisis; people chose to stay, irrespective of salaries being slashed.
"We understood who our top talent was. We could actually leverage off our talent bench strength and deploy people at times of crisis in the right positions to mitigate the risks that we were going through."
- Ashnie Muthusamy
At SANBS, Ravi Reddy shared that succession gives people the opportunity to be part of the system and feel valued. "It contributes to our overall employee value proposition and demonstrates that we care about our people. When one looks at our retention and the amount of internal promotions, that is living testimony of the value that it is adding in our organisation."
It's Critical to Manage the Expectations of Successors and the Organisation as a Whole
A common question from audience members was how best to manage the perceptions of the organisation as well as expectations from successors.
Linda Roos shared her opinion on how best to handle vacancies and promotions as part of the succession process. "Should you advertise all vacancies externally, or to the wider business? It's a grey area, and you ultimately need to create clarity through your policies. My suggestion is to create space in your policy to give clarity to people about which roles are part of your succession strategy, and which will be opened up to the pool of talent that has been developed."
Ashnie Muthusamy cautioned against creating expectations amongst your pool of successors and to avoid overcommitting. "It can lead to people walking around like they're entitled and it causes chaos with your culture. Do not focus on replacing people. Focus on replacing positions; positions always occur in context."
Practically, this means being thoughtful about how best to provide successors with feedback. Ashnie recommends that "you don't have individual successors identified, but rather a pool of people. You can then communicate to the pool that they are part of a group of people in a succession talent pool, and should a vacancy arise, they are just as equal in terms of competing for that role."
50% of Attendees have a Succession Process in Place, but there's Lots of Work to be Done
Only 3% of attendees felt that their succession approach is well-designed and comprehensive. 50% of webinar delegates indicated that they have a process in place, but that it needs to be improved upon. These findings echo the results of Lumenii's State of Succession Survey, where organisations generally noted succession as a critical need but did not always have a structured plan in place to address it.
Buy-In and Process are Still the Biggest Barriers to Rolling out Succession
In our 2021 Succession and Leadership webinar, lack of buy-in and lack of a defined process were identified as organisations' biggest barriers to rolling out effective succession. The same points were highlighted in our 2022 survey poll; 29% of delegates noted process as a barrier and 19% buy-in. Knowledge, time and budget followed closely behind.
"For me, if, if there's nothing else that I assess you on, it would definitely be Learning Agility because the rest we can work on." - Linda Roos
About the Panel at the Lumenii Resilience Succession Webinar
Ashnie Muthusamy is the author of Succession Management: Definite “Do’s” and Detrimental “Don’ts”, a step-by-step guide written especially for the South African workplace. She heads up the Talent, Transformation, and Learning & Development division at Sun International. Prior to joining Sun International in 2011, she gained experience in senior talent roles at Absa and Nedbank.
Ravi Reddy is the CEO at the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), a world-leader in the collection and provision of blood and blood products. SANBS has a clear-cut mandate that drives the performance of each and every employee: they are trusted to save lives. This places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of critical roles and leaders to deliver. Prior to becoming CEO, Ravi was the COO at SANBS for many years.
Linda Roos is the Group Head of Human Capital at ooba, overseeing the HR and Learning & Development divisions. ooba is a South African leader in property finance, with a strong corporate culture focused around high performance, personal growth and empowerment. Linda’s experience centres around getting the best from talent within organisations with highly sales and customer-driven environments.
Jaintheran Naidoo is a Director at Lumenii as well as a Senior Organisational Psychologist. He has been with Lumenii since 2016, and boasts over 20 years of experience in the talent management consulting space. Jaintheran has delivered on talent and training programmes for private and public South African organisations, as well as for businesses across Africa, Australia and Asia.