While the majority of companies with more than 500 employees have already taken some steps to begin a succession planning process for senior management positions, most agree that they do not have the "right talent ready at the right time."
One of the key goals of any succession planning effort should be that there is no "hiccup" in seamlessly executing the business plan, at least from a talent and employee retention perspective.
To ensure success, we recommend implementing 5 key lessons learned from the field.
Here are five guidelines for putting a new succession planning program in place or for breathing life into your existing system.
#1: Start with the business plan.
While it seems obvious that a talent strategy should follow and align with the business strategy, many succession planning processes do not start here. Instead many organizations shortsightedly look at existing leadership roles and focus only on the potential retirement of leaders in key functions. This approach does not adequately take into account all of the key talent required to drive future business plans.
Current trends in succession planning show that organizations are creating large talent pools rather than developing only key targeted leadership replacements. For example, a company that anticipates focusing more on green energy products is creating talent pipelines two to three years in advance of the desired business results. The pipelines bring new talent and skills into the organization, as well as allow leadership development experiences before results are needed.
Once you have a solid understanding of the business strategy and plan, identify all of the critical roles required to execute the strategy over the next three to five years. This includes key individual contributors, such as salespeople with in-depth contacts in important markets, international talent, and technical professionals who have IT or R&D skills critical to product development.
When identifying key roles, remember to consider new target markets such as new key customer segments or geographical locations described in the business plan. Focus on bringing in and developing diverse talent early—talent that knows the local customs and business practices.
#2: Put a system in place to assess your current workforce.
Based on a recent survey we conducted with our clients, only 15% of organizations can answer the question, “What skills and aptitudes does your existing workforce possess?”
The truth is that companies don’t have an “easy-to-access” system to assess, keep track of, or search for the skills or career interests of their existing workforce. This is akin to asking manufacturing managers to produce products on time and on demand without having an existing parts inventory.
If your people are an important component to the success of your company, invest in an enterprise talent management system so that you can track and measure your talent’s key strengths and potential. The functionality and information will support your employee retention goals, allow your organization to assemble project teams rapidly to take advantage of existing market opportunities, and provide important development experiences and growth for employees on those teams. All of these actions support the development of future talent pools and create bench strength to fill vacant or new positions.
Read more about the 5 keys lessons..