3D Results Blog

How to Jump Start Succession Planning in Your Organization

person_helping_up_rockLarge.jpgOver the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with several organizations as they look to reengineer their succession planning processes. And, while our discussions began with how to get better use from their existing talent technology solutions, inevitably the conversations came home to roost with their underlying processes. The sound bites of these meetings included tidbits such as:
  • Succession planning is too complicated for our managers and they don’t have the time to do it the way we need it done
  • None of our systems has the information that we really need to know about our employees
  • And last, but not least, our current processes don’t provide the executive team with the outcomes they want

Let’s look at each of these core issues and how leading organizations tackle each of these foundational challenges.

Creating Manager Engagement for the Succession Planning Process

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of managers are in their role to undertake, drive and complete specific business execution tasks for their respective organizations. When HR knocks on their door with a request to take a “few minutes” to complete an additional form(s) on their team members, is it any surprise that they immediately say it’s too complicated and they don’t have the time to do it?

Here’s an even more daunting reality; managers that may have been through this process at a previous organization are keenly aware that this very process exposes their top talent to being potentially moved out of their team. They may, consciously or not, start “talent hoarding.”

How can you break up this logjam and create momentum?

Start Simple and Easy – For your first round of talent reviews, only ask for a few, clearly defined information items from your managers and explain how they should answer those questions. Provide each manager with a simple input form (Excel works wonders) that you can then easily upload into your talent management solution, as opposed to asking them to log into each individual team member’s online profile.

Radical Suggestion – Has your organization considered creating goals for your managers that are linked to how they develop their team members for growth and promotion?

Getting Necessary Employee Information into their Talent Profiles

Organizations have been wrestling with this dilemma for ages. The sad reality is that for many companies, (aside from position, performance and compensation data) less is known about its employees once they’ve been there for a few years than the outside talent it’s looking to attract. Getting your employees to regularly visit their online profile to update it with pertinent data about their certifications, accomplishments and gained skills requires a clear “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) message.

Who does this well? Take a look around you, there’s one very clear cut destination that has mastered the art of WIIFM on this – LinkedIn. Why is it that your organization’s employees won’t waste any time getting their public professional profile updated while in all likelihood they’ve forgotten their login for your company’s profile portal?

What are some steps to change this behavior?

Internal Marketing Campaign – If the push to improve your succession planning process is coming from the top, then look for a way to leverage that executive endorsement in your messaging. Better yet, after the first round of talent reviews, seek ways to celebrate the successes of those who have been promoted to new roles. Hearing about the successes of fellow colleagues can help to push complacency into action.

Looking for a way to really jump start things? If your recruiting solution is integrated with your talent management technology, then consider importing your employees’ LinkedIn profiles using the same mechanism an outside candidate would use to apply to your company.

Here’s an extra bonus you’ll gain from these efforts. Let’s not forget that your manager population (yep, those folks who ain’t got the time for this) will also derive benefits from the expanded look at employees’ profiles throughout your organization.

Delivering Real Business Value

If you look across the array of annual executive surveys published by the major consulting firms, you’ll see that attracting and retaining key talent is top of mind. How does that translate to succession planning? It means that your executive team is looking to you to help mitigate risks, i.e., eliminate talent surprises in your organization. What does that look like as you put it into action?

Clearly Defined and Populated Talent Pools – As you gather your talent data, it becomes critical to understand what you have, what gaps you can close with development and what you need to acquire. Being able to compare this data against your organization’s business execution goals will provide you with the critical measures necessary for effective workforce planning.

Talent Mobility – If you want to drive employee engagement and lower attrition, then become an organization that actively finds opportunities to move your talent into roles that will challenge them to grow (and stick around!).

Radical Suggestion – Once you’ve tackled your foundational processes, then it’s time to invest in your reporting and data visualization capabilities. Your ability to link the succession planning outputs to your organization’s business needs will ensure that you keep your executive team’s attention along with their continued allocation of budget and support.

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