How is Your Succession Planning Going?


According to a recent study of 2,500 senior human resources executives, conducted by the Novations Group, a global consulting firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, fewer than half of the companies that have succession plans update those plans on a regular basis. At the same time, 22 percent of respondents which have succession plans in place, state their organizations often recruits from outside for senior level openings .while ignoring their own preparatory work.

Fortunately, succession planning is increasing in importance. Too many companies are in a continuous cycle of recruiting and attrition. Turnover is expensive, not only in terms of dollars, but also in terms of engagement and productivity as well.

In the words of Executive Consultant Michelle Knox, organizations need to move beyond “succession planning” to “succession management”. “Companies think because they have a plan they’re all set, but the challenge is broader and needs to fit into a process that supports ongoing talent development, not only the need to quickly fill an empty slot.”

Knox believes organizations that do succession management well, have the entire process owned by the executive team which is then executed by Human Resources. Succession management should also be aligned with corporate strategy and all human capital systems. Instead of slotting a single individual to fill a particular position, wise employers will create talent pools where participants are given access to the tools and resources needed for their own continuing development,

Another best practice suggested by Novations is to have individuals nominate themselves. Their individual development needs are then evaluated, a development plan created, and the employees both give and get feedback on progress made. Senior leaders also check the individual’s progress throughout the year.

Without qualified, experienced people, we have seen entrepreneurs sell their businesses prematurely or simply go out of business. Expect this increased attention to succession management to escalate, as companies realize just how seriously the skilled labor shortages can affect them. Because of these skilled labor shortages, we will see smaller and smaller organizations engage in similar behavior, realizing that succession planning without succession management is virtually a waste of time.

Written by: Joyce Gioia

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