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Why Doing Career Development and Succession Published: Sunday, August 18, 2002 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Our research shows that many companies within the Puerto Rican scenario undertake career development ventures because of concerns relating to upward mobility. The traditional approach to career success, meaning climbing the organizational ladder, can be hard to relinquish even when there is ample evidence that it no longer reflects career realities in Puerto Rico, and even in the United States. The empirical fact is that not everyone gets to move up in today’s horizontal, highly competitive organizations. Nevertheless, succession planning will always be at stake.

Thus, the need for preparing specific plans to ensure that the requirements of an organization for senior managers and executives will be met. The plans identify current and projected human resources requirements, current and projected fill, and the sources and means to fill future vacancies with top quality people. Succession planning involves identifying and analyzing key positions, assessing potential candidates against job and human resources requirements, creating individual development plans, selecting the people to prepare for assignments to the key positions.

A growing number of organizations within the Puerto Rican business community are devising creative, satisfying solutions to the question of how to help their employees achieve career success and enhance organizational competitiveness at the same time. Among these solutions are lateral career moves that build skills and provide a solid learning experience, job enrichment, retraining, rotational assignments, job enlargement, and the most popular these days is that of special projects with high-vissibity, empowered, carte blanch assignments on task forces.

Why do some companies shy away from career development and succession activities. There are several researched reasons: (1) Lack of awareness of reasonable links between development, motivation, empowerment, and productivity. (2) Lack of understanding of the process and how it can be undertaken. (3) Lack of senior management support, which paradoxically reflects loyalty to the notion of success as struggling for upward mobility.

It is possible to craft a beautiful blending between career development and career succession, avoiding managerialism or bureaucratic traps, assessing, aligning and balancing organizational and individuals needs, capabilities, opportunities and challenges by way of very simple and creative approaches. The purpose, among others, is to facilitate the stages through which people transit during their work-lives as student, apprentice, practitioner, helper, creator and leader.

For the future, a primary challenge will be that to educate top management about the relevancy of career development and succession processes and its benefits for the organization, and to secure their buy-in right from the start.

 


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