Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Importance of Succession Training

By Craig Aldridge, Client Relations at Maven Training

Building on the back of the great experience we had at Project Challenge in Birmingham with our CEO Melanie Franklin’s Interpersonal Skills for Projects and Programmes speech we decided that recreating the performance in London would be a very good idea – hence we delivered an abridged version last Tuesday at the Barbican for the Public Service Events on Project Leadership 09. Needless to say it was a great success that all the attendees thoroughly enjoyed. However this was not the main talking point of the show turned out to be something else entirely.

Prior to Melanie’s presentation I was locked in conversation with two programme managers. They told me that their current offices ran efficiently, and the programme managers were excellent. They continued to explain that all these managers were properly trained and understood the nature of their role; however they were concerned. The main reason for their concern was these senior managers, while excellent at their jobs, had their eyes on gold watches. With their retirement coming up in the next couple of years the organisation still had no plan in place to appoint replacements.

The worry was that if somebody were to be appointed without the proper training and preparation, the consequences for the organisation would be dire; not catastrophic, but serious enough to set them back several months, even a year on their respective programmes. Throughout my conversations I brought up the topic of succession training. It became evident very quickly that this was something people had not thought about and immediately they grasped why it was crucial to their organisations.

Coincidently, directly following Melanie’s talk, there was a second session discussing this very topic. While the speaker may not have been as captivating as Mel, it was nonetheless still relevant. It highlighted transitional problems that people face when moving into a new role they are not prepared for, and the knock-on effect this has for the organisation.

The moral of the story is: “make sure that you have somebody who is ready and able to understand and fill the positions”. We understand organisations are wary of the big R, but the general consensus is, if you invest other staff lower down the chain of command, they will more than pay for themselves in the future.

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