All parents have a vision for their kids. Finer details aside, they all want them to grow up happy, healthy and ultimately become successful in whatever they plan to do with their lives. For obvious reasons, kids have so many skill gaps at first - but not for long. They embrace opportunities to learn and develop new skillsets as they grow. The progress is astounding; so many of these little kids are leaders in the making. Yet, little do people realize that this natural formula for success in early life closely mirrors their adult working lives, particularly when it comes to succession planning within their organizations.
Succession planning is one of the most important responsibilities within an organization, yet many companies struggle to do it effectively or simply don't do it at all. Cultivating a legacy of leaders from within an organization by building and curating a talent pipeline allows companies to be mindful of the talent gaps within their organization and then devise a plan for bridging the talent deficiency.
...You might even be tempted to call that "good parenting."
But what does it mean for the business and its employees when the organization fails to plan for the future? Even the most successful organizations aren't immune to poor succession planning.
For example, more than 13 percent of new CEOs at the biggest publicly traded U.S. firms leave in less than three years, with more than half of them leaving in less than two, according to a recent report from Bloomberg. And when it comes to external CEO appointments, the turnover rate increases to more than 17 percent in three years. That's a failing grade in succession at the highest levels of an organization.
Why? That turnover rate leaves organizations vulnerable to lost opportunities and open to more risk - financial and otherwise. There's also the added challenge that there are currently more job openings than there are unemployed job seekers, making it more vital than ever for employers to do what they can to retain their high-potential employees.
The solution is straightforward: invest time and energy in succession planning. Focusing on building up a talent pipeline will help you identify your organization's next generation of leaders.
Cultivate a Legacy of Leaders Within Your Organization
It's well-established that once you recruit your rock star employees, it's more efficient and cost-effective to retain them rather than starting the recruitment process all over again. It's even more challenging in a job seeker's market. So where do you start? Here are three straightforward strategies that will help you to build up your talent pipeline, no matter where you're starting in your succession planning journey:
1. Identify Your High-potential Employees
It's important to keep your people engaged, learning and performing at high levels, to set both them and your organization up for success now and into the future. But succession is about more than identifying your high performers - it's also about identifying high-potential employees who represent the future of the organization.
Anyone in a leadership position, from HR leaders to everyday department managers, can ramp up succession planning by identifying high-potential employees who have the desire and skills to move into different roles. They don't need to have all the critical skills immediately - this is the perfect time to "go fishing" in your organizational talent pools. Then, start a conversation with your people about their own career aspirations. Discuss what you each see as their possible next steps within your organization.
2. Develop Your People for Their Next Role
Then it's time to start developing your high-potential employees for their next role. It's never too early to focus on training. Your people are craving opportunities for learning and development. In fact, a recent study from LinkedIn Learning found that 94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
This employee sentiment is why it's crucial to empower employees to create personalized career paths where they identify roles they'd like to have over the short, mid and long term. By putting them squarely in the driver's seat of their own development, you also boost engagement, which is linked to improved employee retention and performance.
This practice also needs to be part of an ongoing dialogue. As business needs shift, so should your employees' development plans and learning paths to match these changes, and regular communication is crucial to making sure that employees at all levels are bought in. Your people's goals still need to make sense over time. This ongoing dialogue can also serve to surface changes in the employees' aspirations, which can change just like business objectives do!
3. "Re-hire" Your Rock Stars
It's inevitable: new roles get created through business growth, and people do move on from your organization, get promoted or have an extended absence, like parental leave. So you're eventually going to have to quickly fill a mission-critical role - quickly. At this point, it's time to follow through on your succession plans. Do a candidate assessment, review your talent pools and start making that transition.
"Re-hiring" your rock stars into new roles reinforces the current culture, builds loyalty, and keeps existing knowledge and specialized skill sets in-house. Building strong talent pipelines create an organization that's more viable, valuable and competitive in the future.
Past, Present and Future: Building a Consistent Culture of Leadership
Just as a responsible, attentive parent wants their child to grow and flourish into adulthood, so too do employees and leaders within an organization have the responsibility and ability to shape the organization over time.
Succession planning helps your organization build deep talent bench strength and develop strong leadership skills so it can handle anything - no matter if your organization is in its infancy, adolescence or about to hit a midlife crisis. A legacy of leaders shapes an organization's culture from the past to the present and future. What kind of legacy will your succession planning strategy leave in your organization?