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Succession Planning – Not a Nice-to-Have, a MUST-HAVE

July 11th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

Companies succeed in large part because of strong leadership. Yet, according to a recent succession planning survey by Human Capital Media Advisory Group, nearly a third of companies have no plan in place to ensure ongoing leadership strength. Of the 70% of companies who do have some form of succession planning, their plans range from minimal to comprehensive.

With most organizations trying to do more with fewer resources, it’s easy to put things like succession planning on the back burner. And if things are going well, it’s easy to get complacent about the leadership team in place. And yet, even the most loyal of leaders may not be able to resist an incredible outside opportunity, or may decide to retire. Do you have the “bench strength” prepared to step up to the plate?

There are myriad benefits to succession planning. In addition to building your “bench strength,” it engages top talent and improves employee loyalty; identifies and develops critical skills and competencies; uses training dollars more efficiently; and saves money by reducing turnover.

There are four key steps to succession planning:
1. Identify the critical talent needed, i.e., key skills and competencies,
2. Create individual development plans for high potential employees, based on the key skills and competencies needed, and connect those plans to corporate goals,
3. Communicate the succession plan to targeted individuals so they know they have a stake in the future of the company and vice versa, and
4. Validate and improve the program through employee feedback and measurable results.

As the economy improves and companies focus less on how to survive and more on how to thrive, succession planning becomes a key strategic lever. Knowledge and wisdom from retiring or exiting leaders needs to be transferred to those on the bench. High potential employees need to be retained and developed to guide the organization to the next level. And a plan for continually supplying the leadership pipeline needs to become a part of the culture. Succession planning is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

Till next time,

Career planning, Leadership, Professional development, Succession planning


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