This does not mean, that company must have two managers for every managers position, but rather, like in performing arts and theatre, that there is an understudy for every key role. Some companies may refer to this as job shadowing, or mentoring or even just succession planning. It involves the transfer of organizational knowledge and operational processes from one individual to another, on the understanding that should the primary individual, for whatever reason no longer is available to the company, that their functions could be continued by their understudies.
Succession planning is not just a good idea; it is an absolute necessity in any medium to large company. For the individual employees who through their achievements and or qualifications, are selected for grooming or job understudy, they should regard it as an opportunity for personal growth, and to secure future promotion within the company. Companies should also encourage junior employees to engage in part-time studies to further their education, and at the same time acquire skills useful to the individual and the company at a later stage.
Many current senior managers are of the opinion, that this type of training makes key employees attractive to competitors, and on one level, this may be so. However, any company in this situation, who undertakes to encourage additional training and education among its employees, also has to accept that a certain amount of movement, of employees will occur, people will always move. With reasons as diverse as the numbers of people themselves. What a company also needs to realize, is that with increased competency, and education of employees, comes increased expectations of remuneration. Properly implemented succession plans will take this into account, and for those selected to participate, there should be clear indication of their rewards, as well as their expected achievements, in order to attain those rewards. Correctly managed, a plan like this would effectively prevent key skills bleed from most positions deemed essential by the company.
A vital function of corporate leadership is to recognize that corporate tenure is at best temporary, and the interests of the shareholders normally outlast the tenure of the executive, and that a company should be constantly incubating talent, to ensure survival of the enterprise. The advantage of many companies thinking this way would be to reduce the risk of the ever present skills bleed threat currently so prominent in certain professions. If a mind-set change is possible, then in a few years, with education and training, vital skills can be regrown and retained in the local market, surely, this can only be good for business?