Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 6, 2011

Succession Planning That Lets You Sleep At Night

Imagine that you are about to embark on a highly publicized national road show to launch a new product for your company.  Without notice your key presenter defects to a competitor.  You can’t cancel the road show.  You reach for your succession plan – and discover that there is no one ready and available when you need them most.

A big business risk is the unexpected loss of knowledge, skills and client relationships – these assets are embodied in your people.  Good succession planning can save your business time, money and reputation.  It can build the business too — because many high calibre candidates are attracted to companies that pay attention to their past career path.

Here are 5 Ways to Bolster Your Succession Planning:

1) Identify Critical Roles Within Your Organization:

It is easy to estimate one’s value to a company – we would all like to believe that the business would fail without our contribution.   While each role is important only a few are critical.  A good rule of thumb is to identify one or two critical roles for each major functional area in the organization.

2) Look Broadly at Your People:

When deciding who will make the best successors, think in terms of both performance and potential.  High potential individuals may be new to the company but showing great initiative.  They may also be people who are caught in a situation where they can’t shine, but have shown their value in the past.

3) Discuss People and Succession:

Peer review sessions are great opportunities to uncover hidden talent within the company.  Technology can be leveraged for these meetings, in order to contain costs.  Remember, talent should be viewed an “organizational asset” rather than a “departmental asset” – this mindset discourages talent hording.

4) Put Talented People into Feeder Positions First:

Feeder positions are those that are natural breeding grounds for successors who will lead  the company in the future.  They aren’t always a level below the role that you are trying to fill.  For an incumbent to be effective in a role he or she may need exposure to completely different areas (functionally, geographically and by-product) of the organization.

5) Create an Early-Warning System:

People’s situations, attitudes and motivations change rapidly.   Do you have a systematic way of assessing the company’s retention-risk on key people?  Train organizational leaders to identify the signs of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement.  Each successor should have a Developmental Plan and it must be reviewed two or three times per year.

by  Caroline Cole,  Practice Leader,  Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.


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