Last week I attended SHRM’s Succession Planning training in Seattle, Washington. It’s a new course that they have begun offering because so many members have asked for it. I spent the day in a room with about 25 human resource professionals that are looking to begin or implement a better succession planning process in their own organizations. They all seemed to echo many of the same challenges:
1) Executive Buy-In: Management sees the value but does not want to invest much of their own time expecting HR to take the reins and make it happen.
Unfortunately, effective succession planning is closely tied to the strategic plan and requires the input and participation from several key sources, especially management. Obviously, their feedback is needed on assessments, but they are also critical resources in providing coaching and mentoring to high-potentials. Work to get the necessary buy in to support your plan, it can make all the difference.
2) Time: Creating a solid plan and developing the processes to maintain it is very time consuming for organizations that are already stretched thin as it is.
True, succession planning takes time. However, it is because we are stretched so thin that an untimely or unexpected departure can be so costly. Even if you start slow and ramp your efforts up little by little, you will eventually get to where you need be.
3) Simple: Keeping it simple is what everyone wants, but that seems to an elusive target.
The idea of a simple succession plan kept coming up. Many have tried and failed to create a plan that was simple and easy. Even the trainer admitted that this is very hard to do, if not unrealistic. When you consider all of the moving parts of an effective plan, they can become complex very quickly. However complex, they are still a necessity in today’s changing world. Find a way to build it into your culture and make it part of everything that you do.
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