Difference between Career Planning and Succession Planning

Planning is one of the most fundamental characteristics of human nature. It is the tool that gives us the sense that we have control over certain aspects of our lives. It is a big, uncertain world out there, where it seems that nothing is in our hands, as the factors continuously change and new circumstances evolve from time to time. No one likes to live in a world full of uncertainty and cluelessness. But, having a definite plan in our minds gives us a kind of security of having a clear-cut path ahead of ourselves. It helps us train ourselves and be prepared for whatever may come.

Career planning is something that every individual does from their college-level or some maybe even from school level so that they have a well-thought-of road map to achieve their dreams and goals. On the other hand, succession planning is a decision that the organization as a whole take, by choosing a candidate from amongst the pool of qualified candidates, to be the successor to a particular higher-level post after the previous candidate retires. Succession planning directly or indirectly plays a key role in the fulfilment of an individual’s career plans.

What is Career Planning?

Career planning something that every individual does from a young age. It forms the first step in analyzing one’s personality to identify one’s interests, strengths, weaknesses and the type of career that they want to pursue. It is a process that the individual carries out at a personal level to gather more information regarding oneself so that further planning can be done.

Career planning, which comes under career management, where the process of exploring, analyzing and evaluation, starts happening at a very young age. The entire process starts by finding out about your interests. After the first box in the check-list is ticked off, you can find out more about the stream of academics that will help you to convert your interests to a more career-focused path. After the goal is set, planning involves formulating various strategic measures that have to be implemented to achieve that goal.

For example: Suppose an individual gets easily curious about anything (however small it may be) and tries to get to the bottom of it, may have a good career path in the field of journalism.

Also Read: Best Career Options after Graduation in India

So, after the decisions are taken, the next step is to convert all your plans to actions, so that the planning can finally see the light of the day. Thus, identifying the skills and interest at an early age can help you direct all your energies and focus on achieving the plan and may also give you a competitive advantage over your peers. 

Career planning is an ongoing, continuous process. Even after, you are in a corporate environment, and the career planning changes according to your job profiles, your strengths and weaknesses in handling the job, your interest in the work. Your career goals can also help you bring improvements in your current work-space. As and when you continue to succeed in your career, your career plans and objectives keep on changing, thus making it an ongoing process.

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning as the name suggests is the process of identifying, training and selecting appropriate successors for a critical post in an organization. Unlike career planning, succession planning affects the entire organization, and thus the entire organization takes part in finding the next in line for the job.

Succession planning is done to fill up a critical post with newer, fresher talent because the old ones got retired, left the company due to some other reasons, or may have died. It is done to maintain the smooth functioning of the organization so that some key decisions do not take a hit just because a post is vacant.

As is intuitive, succession planning is a necessary process, upon which the future of the entire company lies. One wrong decision and it could cost millions. So, it has to be well-strategized, well thought of and successfully executed.

So, the first step involves identification of all the major job profiles in your organization and find out which profiles require a successor soon. This is followed by critically examining the employees’ performances and based on that, selecting a handful of potential candidates. These candidates are trained, and finally, based on some extensive training, the most eligible candidate is selected for the post.

Succession planning has its perks, as it encourages healthy competition between the employees, which results in value addition to the company. It helps identify the star players in every domain, who are most valuable to the organization. It also helps in motivating the work-force, thereby playing a central force in guiding the employees’ career plan and goals. 

Difference between Career Planning and Succession Planning

Difference between Career Planning and Succession Planning

As is quite clear from above, career planning and succession planning are widely different from one another. Succession planning though plays a huge part in driving the career plan of an individual, but in no way are they the same thing. Their major point of differences is provided below. Please have a look.

  • Career planning is an individual decision, while succession planning is an organization’s decision.
  • Career planning is the process where an individual identifies her/his skills, interests, strengths and weaknesses and decides on a career path, whereas in succession planning the organization searches for the best suitable candidate to fill in a vacant position. 
  • Career planning is an ongoing, continuous process which spans almost over the entire working life of an individual, while succession planning is a process, that is done to fill in the vacant position in an organization and keeps in mind the long-term goals of an organization.
  • Career planning is done from an employee’s point of view, while succession planning is done from the organization’s point of view.
  • Career planning comes under the umbrella of career management, while succession planning comes under succession management.
  • While in career planning, an individual fills up various positions in his/her lifetime, in succession planning, a position is filled by various individuals.
  • Career planning ensures success and advancement in one’s career. In contrast, succession planning provides the leadership skills required to attain the goals of an individual and ensures the smooth functioning of an organization.
  • While succession planning, tends to have a direct impact on an individual’s career planning, targets and goals, vice versa is not true.  

The salient features of both career planning and succession planning are written in a concise form below: 

Career Planning Succession Planning
It is an individual decision. It is the entire organisation’s decision.
A process where an individual explores and identifies her/his interests and thus carve a career out of it. A process where the organization searches and trains the suitable candidate for taking up the higher position.
Done for an individual’s success in their career. Done for the smooth functioning of the organization.
Done from an employee’s point of view. Done from an organization’s point of view.
Comes under career management. Comes under succession management.
An individual takes up various positions in his/her lifetime. The position is filled up by various individuals.
Has no such impact on succession planning. Has an impact on career planning.

Thus, both career planning and succession planning is extremely important, and it is generally advised that everyone must have a clear idea regarding their plans. Career planning will help to have a clear focus and thus will help in redirecting all your energies to attain that goal. Succession planning is a well-defined strategic procedure that is designed to help the company reach great heights. So, both of the planning, though not directly related, is extremely critical and should be looked into.

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