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Can HR Simplify the Succession Planning Process?
Authored By: HR Performance on 9/29/2017

Succession planning should begin long before successors are needed - and the process should be easy. Unfortunately, many HR teams don’t feel that they have the necessary tools to be as effective as they would like to be. So, what might succession planning look like at your organization with the right processes and tools? There is no 'one size fits all', so what is presented here is just one angle to consider. The common element across all organizations, though, is the need for good data and reports so that the right decisions can be made. 

Collect the Right Data

Good performance management technology will allow organizations to customize their data collection process for each employee or position. Some data elements that will figure into the succession planning process can actually come from a formal appraisal process. Since most organizations already have this process in place, it’s a great time to collect data. In addition to any measurable competencies or goals within a formal appraisal, succession planning criteria can also be added into the appraisal. This criteria may not count toward an appraisal score, but would exist simply to collect information. Alternatively, a separate form and process could be developed that is all about collecting data around employee potential. This process could look very similar to a formal appraisal process so that managers and employees feel comfortable with the process.

Analyze the Results

One typical report used in succession planning compares data collected on employee potential, against data about historical performance. Watch the video associated with this article to see an example of that report. Such a report will reveal potential talent that may not have been identified previously. When considering these findings, historical performance should be weighed more heavily than potential, and the critical competencies of a key position should be well-defined. Assuming you have good data, a good performance management application will always allow you to quickly review that data in a meaningful, visually-appealing way.  

Additional Considerations

Employees feel more engaged when they know their employers have a career progression plan for their position. Compass Point, a business consulting firm, points out that “key employees stay longer because they can see a career path, and recruitment of A-players is improved because A-players want to continue to grow and get better.” To the extent possible, companies should let employees know for which positions they could be considered for in the future. This will not be clear for all positions, but for many, there will be clarity, which can be shared.

Lastly, succession planning is one of the best ways to reduce the costs associated with inevitable turnover. For example, the average CIO tenure is four to five years (which is about the same for other executives). It takes a new CIO a little over two years to fully take charge of all responsibilities. That means, on average, an organization only gets two to three years of optimal output from their CIO and then it has to invest another two years in the next candidate. Succession planning minimizes the costs of this process because there will already be someone that has been identified internally as a potential successor that could reach that optimal level sooner than two years. Ideally that individual would have a clear career development plan housed within the performance management system that indicates readiness to assume the next position.

HR teams can make a significant impact within their organizations by identifying key positions where succession planning makes the most sense. Good performance management software will allow you to collect, analyze, and act on good data - all while housing career development forms/data on specific employees.


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