It\'s Time for a Plan

 -  4/3/10

  Return to:

The first batch of baby boomers reached age 60 in 2006, and it is predicted that in 2010 a large percentage of the working boomers will start retiring, or at the very least move to working part time to find a better work-life balance. This mass exodus from the workforce could leave big holes to fill in many organizations.

Because there is really no better cause for succession planning than the baby boomers retiring, it’s time for many talent leaders to get their plans together.

Internal recruitment is vital for organizations to succeed, and finding talent from within is much less costly than recruiting and on-boarding external candidates. The succession process takes time to get in place, and it needs to be gradual to keep information and responsibilities from getting lost in the change.

The future of any company depends on the thoroughness of its succession plan. Here are some things to consider when preparing for effective succession.

Have a plan in place before it’s necessary. Succession planning removes some of the stress of finding the right person for a job in an emergency. There is no way to predict if someone is going to suddenly quit, get sick or decide to move to another city. So the only way to handle this situation is to prepare for it.

Careful planning will keep a workforce from being disrupted, or at least minimize potential disruptions. Planning also gets workers more involved and helps build organizational loyalty by providing a career path up the corporate ladder.

Assess current employees’ skills. To start the planning process, review current employees’ skills to identify the right candidates to move up. Think about not only the technical skills for a job but also the interpersonal skills a person would require to be successful, such as the ability to motivate others and manage subordinates.

If after reviewing current employees, there is no one available with the necessary skills, start a targeted training and development program to get them there, or alter the recruiting process to find someone externally with the exact skills desired.

If the right internal candidates for open positions are available, keep them updated on hiring decisions. It’s important to gauge their interest and involve them in the process to increase their loyalty and investment in the company. Letting employees know there is a bigger plan in store for them can promote stronger relationships and a more trusting work environment.

This step is a great place to recruit the help of a performance management tool. It can automate the review process, help measure competencies and develop the best succession plan by systemically highlighting the right employees. Performance management tools also can help ensure better alignment between business goals and the individuals responsible for achieving them.

Boost existing employees’ skills. Organizations can realize huge savings by offering job training and coaching to their existing workforces. This is also an excellent way to pass knowledge from more experienced workers to less experienced workers.

Enlist the help of a learning management system (LMS) to keep training costs down and save time. Most systems allow talent managers to centrally create, deliver and track training programs for the entire organization.

Employees who believe their organization is making an investment in them are much more willing to make a deep commitment. Guiding them down a career path indicates care and concern for their long-term career goals, and establishing that there is a reason to stay in the organization will make employees feel valued.

To help the high-potential employees selected via workforce assessment hone their skills, include them in key meetings. This not only builds their capabilities, it gets them up to date about what is happening in the company and creates opportunities for them to observe roles and learn what is expected of everyone within the company. It also gives the candidates key face time with those they will be working with in the future and puts them on the road to build needed relationships.

To help build their skills, start slowly giving these employees more responsibilities by assigning them some of the tasks they will be responsible for in the future. Make sure to guide the candidates through the process so they don’t feel as if they are being left to fend for themselves in unfamiliar territory.

All levels of workers should be included in succession plans. Succession planning does not and should not stop with top-level executives. Talent managers should examine all levels of the organization to find the best and brightest employees with desired skill sets. Not including employees who handle the day-to-day work in a succession plan could be detrimental to the business. These employees keep the organization going; think of the loss of knowledge that happens when one of these employees decides to walk out the door.

Succession planning is more than just putting a check next to a few employees’ names on a list. It is a comprehensive plan to put the best person for the company in a newly empty seat and to have that person ready and up to speed on company happenings and what is expected of them from day one. Talent managers who don’t have a plan: It’s time to get one.