How to improve Succession Planning

Posted on July 27, 2018 at 10:16 AM

how to improve succession planningPerhaps your succession plans are not up to scratch.

Perhaps, despite best efforts, you still don't seem to have filled your talent pipeline with engaged successors and your succession template still isn't giving you the information you need.

Perhaps your data is, quite simply, hard to access, out-of-date and never answers the questions you are asked!

Perhaps you need to re-think the actions you are taking - and move on from there?

#1 Find a more structured way to gather, store and access talent data

If you're ready to take succession planning to the next level in your business, start to look at cloud-based software to help. Without it, you'll be emailing spreadsheets and documents and slide sets around to each other with no single, definitive source of talent information. It'll consume time, never be up-to-date and will be almost impossible to report on.

Despite HRIS talent management software being the backbone of talent management across many organisations, the use of some online succession planning tools has failed to meet the needs of some businesses. Often there may be a succession planning component to a firm-wide HRIS, but often they simply don't 'cut it' when it comes to giving the functionality really needed to inform the Talent Report to the board or the succession planning process.

Specific, best-of-breed online succession planning software will give you the information you need to answer the most difficult of questions asked of you - and at the touch of a button. Take a just a few minutes and look at Talent Successor.

succession planning software

#2 Engage employees in succession planning 

We see that in some organisations succession planning is one of those talent management activities that for the majority of employees is somewhat of a mystery. Clear and open communication of the purpose and mechanisms of these processes to all staff is essential - whether or not they are part of the talent pool. 

Getting involvement, engagement and buy-in to all talent management activities will be crucial to understanding potential and how best to develop your employees. Creating as much individual accountability and ownership of talent management is important. Some questions for you to think about:

  • To what degree are employees involved in the broader talent management processes such as performance appraisal?
  • Do they have the opportunity to assess their own performance and set their own objectives? 
  • Are they able to ask for or collect feedback from a range of people to help them learn and increase their self awareness? 
  • Are they encouraged to actively plan their own development and future careers? 
  • Are they able to understand the career paths within the organisation - and put themselves forward for progression?
  • How regularly are they able to have a meaningful conversation about their progress, their development and their careers?
  • Do you have a robust means to gather holistic feedback on people’s performance and potential?

#2 Plan for future careers

Encourage and enable employees to take ownership of their career planning. It's often neglected within organisations. Provide employees with the tools and information they need in order to proactively manage their own careers. This can both increase levels of engagement and provide valuable information for succession planning and talent review processes. Do you have systems that allow people to review requirements at elevated roles and self-assess themselves against them? Do employees have access to information about potential career pathways, lateral moves and international opportunities?

One customer once told us, "Career planning is the often overlooked side of Succession Planning."

The identification of successors is a two-way street; if it’s to engage employees, it would benefit from their input. Sadly all too often, career planning is overlooked or opportunistically-driven. With tools and resources at employees’ fingertips, they can engage in directed development planning that aids performance, retention and engagement. Take a look at some of the tools available in our own career mapping tool - Talent Navigator.

#3 Gain clarity at the Talent Review 

It is essential that you are clear about how you will manage and use the Talent Review Board process and the information that is brought to it. You will also want to look closely at the measurements used by managers and how they arrive at their assessments. What’s your measuring stick? Are all managers using the same criteria to determine levels of potential? Think about the following – could any of these increase the quality of the decisions you make about individuals, or the fairness with which different individuals are treated?

  • consistent understanding of what potential is and how it is measured and identified across business areas, across functions, specialities and roles is critical. 
  • Having a range of measurements which can be triangulated and cross-referenced will increase the chances of reliably identifying genuine high potential. 
  • Many organisations use competency frameworks and performance management data to inform both performance and potential levels. 
  • How do you determine ‘readiness’?

#4 Feedback to all

What’s often missing, after the succession planning Talent Review Board, is a clear plan of action which allows people to gain the experiences necessary to help them realise their potential and actually make the moves that it's suggested they are capable of making. 

A question to you: What do you actually do once you’ve populated your 9 Box-Grid, beyond taking your stars into an accelerated learning programme?

Emerging from the Talent Review process should be a robust talent plan to ensure that the organisation is getting the most from its employees, managing all of its talent at an optimal level and managing the risks associated with losing HiPos (high potentials) or failing to manage poor performers.

Also often missing is individual feedback to employees. It is important to follow up with individuals after the Talent Review meeting to discuss outcomes and next steps with them, and to ensure that decisions and actions are captured in individual career and development plans. The individual again should be allowed input to this – they may have development suggestions or ideas not considered at the Talent Review Board.

Perhaps now is the time to look at the cloud-based succession software that is available to support you?

If you're looking to introduce succession planning, see what else contributes to best practice and request our eBook – The Ultimate Guide to Succession Planning.  

If you're ready to talk about how we could support your succession plan strategy, or to see some succession planning examples, do get it touch.

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