Do you know the leadership potential of your current talent? Whether you have the leaders you need in positions critical to organization strategy? What areas of your company would be at risk if someone left?
These questions can all be answered through a strategic and integrated succession plan.
Succession planning is often thought of as replacement planning for the C-suite, but a comprehensive succession plan interfaces with an overall talent management strategy to define, assess and address the current and future state both of leadership and critical non-leadership roles.
The SHRM 2011 succession planning poll indicates that at the time they were surveyed, less than a quarter of organizations have a formal succession plan, and that number fell below 15% in companies with less than 500 employees.
The most frequent reason cited for not having a succession plan? A focus on "more immediate needs."
But organizations neglect succession planning at their peril.
The stresses placed on dedicated employees due to downsizing and economic fears may keep them at their jobs for now, but often reduce their engagement and performance and eventually increase retention risk. Add to that the looming threat of mass retirement among baby boomers - often the backbone of institutional knowledge.
With these challenges in mind, I would argue that identifying and addressing current and future workforce needs is an "immediate need".
Here's how can you use a comprehensive succession planning process to identify critical workforce and leadership gaps.
Step One: Identify Critical Roles
Referring to the organization's strategic plan, identify which roles are crucial to its future success. Certainly, senior leadership roles will be included, but don't forget customer-facing, technical or other roles that demand a specific skillset, range of experience or knowledge that cannot be easily replaced.
Besides current needs, think about what will be needed in the future to meet the direction the organization plans to go - the profile might not be the same.
Step Two: Identify "Feeder" Roles for the Critical Roles
For each of the roles identified in Step One, think about where in the organization likely successors are to be found. In what roles are employees likely to develop the knowledge, skills and experience needed to be successful in the mission-critical roles you identified in Step One? These "feeder" roles are the best place to find and develop the talent pool you are looking to build.
Step Three: Assess Current Workforce
The simplest way to begin to assess the current workforce is by interfacing with the performance management process. Ask managers to assess their staff on their potential for promotion, future career plans and retention risk along with their standard performance reviews.
By capturing this information, the Halogen Succession™ module enables Human Resource professionals to easily roll up and report out a snapshot of the organization, providing useful insight into its leadership potential and retention risk.
Step Four: Identify Gaps
In this step you will look both at the overall talent profile of the current organization and the specific areas which you have already identified as critical. Here are some questions to consider while examining the data to determine your strengths and risks:
- What percent of our high potential employees are at risk for leaving? This will give you an idea if you have an overall retention problem.
- What is the overall performance and potential of the organization? Are there any specific pockets of high or low performance or potential? This will give you insight into the leadership potential of the organization.It will also provide clues about the leadership skills of managers. Clusters of high performing and high potential employees may indicate a manager who is a particularly strong leader (or easy grader!). Likewise, clusters of low performers may indicate a red flag on the manager of the group.
- For mission-critical roles, how are the current incumbents performing? Will any need to be replaced? Are any high performers at high retention risk? This will give you an idea of how soon you will need successors.
- For "feeder" roles, what is the promotion-readiness of current incumbents? What is the retention risk? What are the career aspirations of high performers? This will help you understand the strength of your bench, where you can find candidates for talent pools and where there are areas that need attention.
Once you have identified workforce and leadership gaps and strengths, you know where to begin action planning to further develop in areas of strength or mitigate areas of weakness.
What succession planning tips or questions do you have? Leave a comment below to share your insight or question.
For more insight on understanding workforce potential, developing talent pools and building bench strength, visit Halogen's Succession Planning Best Practices Center of Excellence.