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?

Women’s Workplace Ambition

What are employers doing to working women’s performance?

Research about women in the workplace may surprise you. Harvard Business Review TV (HBR video) presented a shocking video on the differences in the engagement of men and women in the workplace.

Click Here to Watch the Video.

According to this research study, women start out their careers with more ambition than men, but after 2 years women’s confidence and ambition plummets by over 50%. This result comes after controlling for or removing the easy excuses of marriage and child rearing that, some may say, affect women’s workplace performance. Conversely, men experience no decline in their workplace confidence levels and only a slight decline in ambition levels.

One of the largest drivers that is reported for this change, is that after two years in the working world, women feel their own personal values do not match the organization’s corporate values. Also, women perceive that their supervisors are not supportive of their career goals. According to the research, women are not getting the role model support or exposure that they need in order to progress in the workplace.

Click Here to Read the Article.

Support and progression of all employees is a key function in succession planning. Currently, organizations are not meeting the needs of almost half of the working population. This is such a loss of opportunity that could provide exceptional gains through conscious, pro-active employee engagement based on values, consideration,s and a commitment to improvements in organizational culture.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a leader of an HR department, what strategies do you think an organization could implement to ensure women do not lose their workplace ambition and confidence?
  2. What are the barriers that need to be removed in order to make the above strategies workable?
  3. How would these strategies improve an organization’s succession plans?

Succession Management in the Future

In the future, how long will an employee work? In how many jobs? The number will astound you!

Take a look at a report from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics from March 31, 2015, by clicking the link, below:

Click here to view the report

“Baby Boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs during the ages of 18 to 48.”

According to the report, most individuals had 11. 7 jobs over 30 years, and over half of those job were from the ages of 18 to 24.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that these individuals between 24 and 48 have held approximately 6 jobs over 24 years. Those numbers seem quite reasonable and manageable especially from a Human Resources point of view.

Now imagine taking that number, 6 per lifetime of a professional career, and increasing it over 600% to 40 jobs in a career.

Human Resources Management ONLINE (HRM) predicts employees in the future will have a retirement age of 100 and over 40 jobs in their career.

Click here to read the article

Imagining numbers like this, is mind blowing for an HR professional.  Think about how challenging succession plans will become? Are employees going to stay with one organization long enough? Are employees going to stay too long? It is hard to answer these questions, but it will fall on the HR professional to develop solutions no matter what the employment reality becomes.

 Discussion Questions

  1. How is HR going to manage recruitment, selection, and retention in this new employment era?
  2. Will succession planning become redundant or will it become more critical to organizational success?