5 Best Practices to Breathe Life into Succession Planning

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Succession planning best practices help talent leaders know where high potential talent resides in the organization and how to best engage and retain them for when it matters most.

When it comes to succession planning, “hope” is not a talent management strategy.  The right talent to move a strategy forward rarely just appears when needed.  Succession planning best practices help to develop practical and forward thinking processes to identify, attract, develop, engage and retain top talent within the organization.

While most companies have already taken 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” and enter “crisis mode” when an important leadership gap occurs.  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.

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.

Read All 5 Succession Planning Trends and Lessons.

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