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Succession Planning – skimming off the cream

28 Sep 2020 | Human Resource Management, Learning and Development, Organisational Development

After a business has been going well for a while or maybe just growing like crazy, it is common for owners to start asking what happens if…..

  1. I want to stop working in the business in a few years time..
  2. A key manager or technician or specialist leaves the business…
  3. I want my family member to take over…
  4. Someone gets hurt / injured..
  5. We need to develop a new line…

This is the time to consider two things – one is so called “succession planning” the other is “talent management”.  

They are integrated and it is important to view succession planning as the end result of the business’s talent management program ie. the  point at which you can identify or skim off the cream of the talent program.

The complexity of this will usually depend on the size and complexity of the business.

Business needs define the talent management program : 

It goes without saying that a company’s business requirements will set the foundation for any talent management.

  1. As part of the business planning the management team should define the business direction and goals, and also establish the competencies that the business requires.
  2. Business competencies will be both ;
    1. Technical
    2. Commercial
  3. The competencies will have associated performance requirements.

It is these competency and performance requirements that make the basis for the business’s talent requirements.

Talent Assessment establishes the foundation :

A review of the company’s staff, their competencies, skills, knowledge and past performance will give the management team a good idea of the current capacity and what the requirements are going forward. 

Filling the Gaps :

Once capacity and competency gaps are assessed, a few things need to be considered when deciding the approaches to meet these gaps.

  1. Time frame …
    1. Immediate requirement – Capacity or competency needed right now / any level in the organisation,
    2. short – medium term requirement – Possible need owing to retirement, staff turnover, new business needs,
    3. long term requirement – long term business planning.
  2. Existing Capacity …
    1. Bench strength – Is there adequate strength to promote and develop internally.
    2. Developable – are existing team members able to be developed.
    3. Time required to develop
    4. Business’s capacity to develop staff – including learning and development resources, performance management system, mentoring / coaching competence etc.
  3. When to recruit…
    1. Immediately required competence – management, technical, operation skills.
    2. Need to build bench strength where company does not have competence – new line / business area etc.
    3. Long term planning (grad recruitment etc.)
  4. When to develop…
    1. Sufficient time – ie. 1 – 5 years.
    2. Developable talent with sufficient bench strength to be able to backfill.
    3. Established infrastructure including L&D resources and performance management process. 

Planning and Managing – the core of talent management :

Establishing the necessary recruitment plans and strategies to acquire talent is quite straightforward.  However timing should be taken into account, as should considering the longer term recruitment plans to build bench strength.

Developing talent internally is usually preferred, however does involve an investment in time and resources.  Talent development should be for a purpose – specifically to directly meet gaps in competence.   With this in mind the management team should be able to determine;

  1. Who is in-line to fill key roles and backfill if needed.
  2. What development is needed for the talent available and
  3. how long until they can fill a specific or key position.  

An L&D and career management plan can be put in place with special attention being paid to developing talent for future management or key technical roles. 

Performance management and regular review at least 6 monthly of key talent will allow real-time assessment and measurement of the process, and allow for adjustments.  Adjustments might include additional development activities, additional or ceasing talent acquisition activities or re-evaluating the entire talent management strategy.   

Cream Rises – the Succession plan;

The systematic approach to talent management allows good talent to be brought into the business, developed and promoted.  The end result is having a selection of talent that can fill key positions if and when required – in essence the cream will be at the top, easy to identify and ready to be moved into a senior position.  

The businesses talent management plan will allow the facilitation of the succession plan.