Deciding which Succession Planning Model will work for you

Posted on September 17, 2018 at 09:29 AM

succession planning approachIn our work with customers we are in a privileged position.

We get to see different models of, and approaches to, succession planning, from the essentials right through to the more sophisticated.

What will work for your organisation?

Succession Planning: a fluid or a more stable approach?

The challenge facing HR within all talent management activities is how to combine the nimbleness of an agile and fluid approach, with the rigour and robustness of defined processes.

One client with a more informal process in place, told us that,

“Succession planning has to be flexible. After all, even with a formal plan in place, strategies change and often organisational structures change with it. The important thing is to ensure a continuous pool of talent available to fill roles. In our environment there would be a number of people primed to take up positions within an area but there is no reliance on one individual to mentor and grow a specific successor for their post. No-one is indispensable. We create pools of talent and use them when an appropriate opportunity emerges.” 

But, in situations where roles are more clearly defined, more stable and less prone to radical change, a more formalised process can be adopted, with key talent being tracked through the organisation, career paths clearly defined and individuals earmarked for specific roles.

But there are downsides to adopting a more defined succession planning model:

  • It is more difficult to adapt the process as the business and roles shift and change.
  • Disengagement can arise amongst those who are not part of a talent pool, or who are not part of any succession planning process.
  • Losing talent flagged as high potential to a competitor which has a target position in a shorter time frame.
  • Creating high expectations among those in the talent pool which may not be matched with actual opportunities.
  • Not engaging employees in their own career by failing to include their views and aspirations.

The solution seems to be to adopt a more flexible system for capturing data and to track the flow of talent. It offers:

  • The ability to constantly review and monitor the efficacy of the process with key stakeholders.
  • Alternative programmes and opportunities for development and promotion amongst the rest of the employee population.
  • The ability to manage expectations, communicate carefully and ensure an inclusive approach to talent management.

Regardless of the succession planning approach or model you choose to adopt, the most fundamental action is to get in place the succession planning template that you will use.

Those we see range from the most essential or basic information in which geographic mobility, functional mobility, flight risk and an assessment of potential and performance are included, right through to the more evolved templates which include regular career conversations between manager and individual and as assessment of a ‘talent category’ (often associated with a 9 box grid).

We also see that many succession approaches still produce large quantities pf paper documentation, or spreadsheets being emailed around or having to manually plot people onto a 9 box grid. Some organisations still believe an annual succession planning conversation is good practice.

But there is a shift taking place; the world, and people’s circumstances and aspirations, change much more rapidly than once a year!  

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

You may like to read more about how to introduce succession planning. If you want to read further, request our eBook – The Ultimate Guide to Succession Planning.  

When you're ready to talk about how we could support your succession plan strategy and the approach you choose to adopt, or just to see some succession planning examples, do get it touch.

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