Problem 6: Too Much Paperwork

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Top managers in most organizations have a low tolerance for paperwork. A

colleague of mine jokes that ‘‘top managers in my organization won’t respond

to a one-page survey or read beyond the first page of a memo.’’ One reason

for this is that top managers are often overburdened with paperwork, since

they receive it from so many quarters. Technology, which was once seen as a

blessed solution to information overload, now appears to be a major cause of

it—as stressed-out managers cope with burgeoning messages by electronic

mail, cell phones, faxes, and other sources.

Hence, one problem with the traditional approach to succession planning

is that it may require substantial paperwork to:

Assess present work requirements or competencies.

Appraise current individual performance.

Assess future work requirements or competencies.

Assess individual potential for advancement.

Prepare replacement charts.

Identify future career paths or career maps.

Identify key positions requiring replacements.

Establish individual development plans (IDPs) to help individuals narrow

the gap between their present work requirements/performance and

future work requirements/potential.

Follow up on IDPs.

While full-time specialists or part-time HR generalists can provide assistance

in recordkeeping, they can seldom supply the details for every person,

position, and requirement in the organization. Perhaps the best approach is

to minimize the amount of paperwork, but that is difficult to do. Whenever

possible, however, succession planning coordinators, management development

professionals, or human resource professionals should supply information

that is readily available from sources other than the immediate

organizational superiors of employees participating in succession planning ef-

forts. That way, the superiors can focus their attention on identifying the talent

to implement business strategy, identifying critical positions and high-potential

talent, and formulating and following through on developmental planning.