Succession Management: Why and How?

Succession Management is one area of Strategic Human Resources Planning that is getting a lot of ‘air time’.

Various images of crowns
Source: Mischoko/Shutterstock

In our HR planning studies, we have learned that the focus for future organizational success is critical and dependent on ensuring that the right people are available to step into the right roles at the right time and in the right place. As HR Professionals, this task is left to us!

Luckily, we are able to call upon the experiences of seasoned HR experts for some advice on succession management strategies and risks.

Click Here to Watch a Video.

As noted by members of this expert panel, succession management does not have to be overly complex and difficult.  It begins by ensuring that individuals in organizations know that movement through the workforce structure is possible which means building a ‘mobility mindset’. However, this proves difficult when organizations make promises and set up expectations that they can not deliver; especially to those who have been identified as high performers or exceptional leaders.

Most importantly, it is clear that succession management needs to be managed in order for it to be successful.  This is definitely within the purview of the organization’s HR team and comes with great responsibility and accountability directly linked to organizational success.

Shakespeare wrote, “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.” (Henry IV, Part 2, Act III, Scene1). When considering our role in succession planning, it seems evident that the Human Resources head may lie heavier still when having to plan who gets to wear that crown.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the benefits and risks of developing lists of high performing talent?
  2. Why is recognition of high performing talent so important?
  3. As an HR professional, how would you advise an employee who is no longer on a high performance succession planning list?
  4. Do you think it is important to be transparent when identifying employees who are high performers and potential leaders in an organization?  Why or why not?

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