Succession planning for the year ahead

What was your New Year’s resolution? Whether it was going to the gym more, reading one book a week, or quitting a vice, research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February [1].

However, if succession planning for your business’s future was your New Year’s resolution, failure to do so can have a much more negative impact than not picking up that book.

If your business owner, CEO, or any member of senior management is planning to retire in 2018, failing to have a succession plan in place can be disastrous for the future of the business.

However, even if a planned retirement isn't looming - what if your senior management left for a new role - at a rival company? An unexpected death? Poor health? Even misconduct? The unexpected can hit your organisation where it hurts, so a contingency plan must be in place for every stage of your business's growth.

Succession planning focuses on ‘identifying and growing talent to fill business-critical positions in the future, in the face of skills shortages’ [2]. Whether expected or unexpected, consider how you can ensure that your business continues to run at full capacity with skills in key roles.

Engagement is everything

New Call-to-actionSadly, more than half of today’s workforce are unlikely to recommend their employer to their peers [3]. However, if employees understand and live by clear professional values in the workplace, they will become ambassadors of the company. Not only will this attract more of the right people, but your workforce will become more competent and proficient in their approach to work.

If employees are engaged fully, they can become future leaders of your organisation. The right leadership is key for sustainability, and increasing numbers of organisations are recruiting candidates with less experience, but more potential.

This is because leadership development is a strategic and long-term business necessity and will equip inexperienced but capable leaders with the skills required for the business’s unique needs and goals.

Organisations are finding that by recruiting from within, internal knowledge is retained, and employee loyalty is strengthened if internal promotions are demonstrated. By identifying and developing your top talent, you can ensure the success of the business’s leadership needs for the present, and for the future.


being engaged alone won't result in leadership...

...but being able to identity talent based on past performance and future potential enables you to identify the leaders of the future.

By being able to analyse skill gaps, you can identify development opportunities and help shape the path to equip key talent with the skills they need to be a future leader.

Identifying future talent is not limited to potential CEOs. Talent planning should include any senior management that is critical to the operational success and performance of the business.

Unfortunately, you never know when you might lose a key player in your management team. With a well-thought-out succession plan in place, you are better prepared and can be confident that no matter what happens; you can quickly put the right person, with the right skills in place to ensure operational continuity.

Get online

Due to the complexity and high confidentiality aspects of succession planning, organisations are increasingly relying on online tools to identify and track talent that may otherwise be missed, giving the ability to recruit from within without the threat of bias. Online systems enable you to collect and store all your data in one place providing  greater security over paper forms, and provide access on a ‘need to know’ basis.

With all personnel data centralised, organisations find it simpler and more effective to use online tools to view a complete picture of its hierarchal structure. An online talent tool should have an intuitive user interface, allowing you to view the entire leadership pipeline in order to easily identify key skills gaps. Combined with easy-to-interpret talent information, you can make informed decisions to fill positions internally – or look externally if appropriate.

An online tool should ideally feature a performance and potential matrix, commonly referred to as the nine-box grid.

The nine-box grid is one of the most widely used tools in succession planning and leadership development, and allows for individuals to be assessed on their past performance and future potential.

If you have realised that this year you need to quickly assemble a succession plan, an online tool will enable you to quickly clarify the leadership pipeline with ease. Best in class tools have powerful functionality such as succession plan generators, so you can automatically build a plan based on your existing organisational structure.

If your business leader is set to retire this year, how are you going to prepare for the resource required for the future of the company? Become better organised for your New Year’s resolution this year, and prepare for the long-term future.

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[1] Business Insider UK, ‘80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February – here’s how to keep yours’, 4 January 2017

[2] CIPD, ‘Succession planning’, 25 April 2017

[3] Bersin by Deloitte (2014). Research conducted in conjunction with Glassdoor

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