How Succession Planning is Like Exercising

Guest Contributorby Julie Harrison | Posted | Leadership

How Succession Planning is Like Exercising

If you surveyed me today and asked if I thought regular exercise was important, I'd certainly say 'yes.' The research is clear on exercising: it will help me secure my long-term wellness, it will reduce any current health risks, and it will even make me feel better emotionally.

Similarly, the research is clear on the broad benefits of succession planning - from reduced time to fill critical positions, to better decision-making about who to promote, to an enhanced competitive advantage. And HR professionals certainly don't deny it, according to a recently released survey report by HR Daily Advisor Research titled HiPos and Succession Planning: Securing Your Company's Future. When asked how important succession planning is, the overwhelming majority of respondents identified it as extremely important, very important, or important.

succession planning hipos90.5% of respondents said that succession planning was important

Between intent and action

Okay, so I already told you that I definitely think exercise is important. But would you be able to know that by my actions? Not likely. My day is filled with sedentary activities like writing at a computer and attending meetings.

So, turning the tables ... if I looked at your organization, would I be able to tell by its actions that you and your peers think succession planning is important?

Let's let you off the hook and instead look at what the survey respondents said. While 90.5% of respondents said that succession planning ranked as at least "important," 46% of respondents said that they don't have a plan for dealing with vacancies.

HiPos and succession planning

High-potential employees (HiPos) are like that fabulous new gym in your neighborhood. Showing up to the gym is a critical step for getting your exercise done, just as those HiPos are critical to your organization's succession planning. Conversely, if you don't identify who the HiPos are in your company, it's like buying the gym membership but never going.

And yet, I can assure you that countless gym memberships are bought, but never actually used to their full potential (*cough*cough*). I must admit that the results from this HR Daily Research Report sound remarkably familiar. Respondents said identifying HiPos was very important, but only 44% say their company actively attempts to identify HiPos.


92.5% said that identifying HiPos is important, but only 44% identify HiPos

What does that mean to us?

Enough about the respondents. Back to us.

I already told you that I know exercise is important, but I don't really have a system for ensuring that I consistently integrate it into my life. Does that also sound familiar to you when it comes to integrating succession planning into your company's regular rhythms?

So, why is it that we don't DO what we very well KNOW is important?

It's an interesting question. (And one my husband would probably like to know the answer to since membership to that fabulous gym ain't cheap!) One assumes it's a motivation thing, right? However, when a sports psychologist and behavior change consultant, Steven Ladbetter, sought answers to this very question, he came across some thought-provoking research. Surprisingly, it turns out motivation level was not a predicting factor as to whether someone would work out or not.

Instead, it was convenience. Yup, convenience.

"When it comes to long-term adherence, convenience trumps everything." - Steven M. Ladbetter

Ladbetter notes: "The biggest predictor? How convenient people perceived where they worked out to be in relation to their daily routines. Convenience is king. It trumps motivation. It trumps perceived value. It trumps guilt and shame (everything trumps guilt and shame over time). When it comes to long-term adherence, convenience trumps everything."

Start the process of change with something that's convenient

Using this research to his advantage, Ladbetter has seen impressive outcomes with his clients by focusing on convenience as a starting point. Often, he explains, people imagine that results cannot be seen from simple, basic exercises and that they instead need to be able to start running marathons. But his clients have lost hundreds of pounds just by adding one small change to their life's rhythms.

I've recently taken this research to heart. I don't bother trying to get myself to the gym anymore. Instead, I set the alarm just a little bit earlier and go downstairs to my basement where I have a treadmill set up in front of a television. Really, it couldn't be more convenient; I get in some activity while catching up on favorite television shows. I don't have to get myself dressed for the gym, drive myself to the gym, or cart my work clothes there to change into afterwards.

That begs the question, then: Can HR pros use this research to their advantage when it comes to succession planning? What aspects of succession planning are inconvenient to your employees, and are there any ways around them?

Often, adding some automation to a process can increase the convenience factor. For example, 39% of respondents indicated that HiPos are identified in their organization by their performance reviews. By compiling all performance review data into a software system, it follows that that same data could be available at the touch of a keyboard, which, in turn, could be used to generate a report that listed your organization's HiPos.

my employeesTalent Management software can make succession planning more convenient.

Or perhaps you'd like to ensure that your HiPos are receiving training so that they are developing specific competencies that are core to your organization's success. With talent management software, the 62% of respondents who don't currently offer specialized training to HiPos would be able to link individuals in a talent pool to development plans and on-demand training courses.

development planDevelopment plans for HiPos are a natural inclusion in an ongoing performance management process.

Look, there's no denying it: change can be hard. As humans, we're hardwired to resist it. But integrating exercise into my daily routine is good for my health now ‒ and in the future. It might be time for your organization to make some changes too. The long-term health of your company depends on it.

Download the full report

hr daily advisor

Want to learn more? Find out what HR pros from around the world are doing to build bench strength by downloading HR Daily Advisor's Research Report "HiPos and Succession Planning: Securing Your Company's Future.

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Driving the Future of Performance Management

Discover how you can maximize your employees\' potential and realize brilliant outcomes for your organization.

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