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Succession Planning – ‘I see no ships!’ What is on your horizon?

Succession Planning

In the UK, the Labour Party is apparently conducting secret ‘succession planning’ for Jeremy Corbyn’s departure, according to leaked documents that warn the party is facing meltdown under his leadership. This was reported in the tabloid press last month.  Football managers come and go like the wind: look at what has happened recently to Ranieri at Leicester City. Is their unfortunate demise covered off within succession planning?  Do they have an internal successor earmarked and ‘ready now’ to takeover?  Not very often, if ever, it would seem!  All too often we hear the immortal words that ‘the hunt is on for their successor’ and external agencies have been appointed to find the right person.

In reality, are companies any different?  Most, I have encountered, have a range of approaches towards succession planning.  Some will only target Hi Potential communities; those individuals and roles that are perceived as adding most value to the growth of the business.  Others will constrain succession to Directors and senior managers only.  All have probably been too reliant on external recruitment! 

One of the most innovative and  comprehensive planning approaches, I would suggest, is one,  that in addition to planning at the more senior/management levels,  is also able to establish a plan that has a potential career pathway model for front line, which in turn will provide a valuable talent pipeline ‘bottom up’ into the organisation.

Such an approach really grabs people’s attention. It challenges preconceptions about no career opportunities; it generates a more committed, supportive, and better motivated workforce delivering the best business outcomes, whilst shaping the future direction of the employees’ careers and building the skills the business needs.  And above all else, for me, this succession planning approach uncovers incredible people who are making a huge difference to the organisation, who without such a succession pathway, might well fall ‘through the cracks!’

So, what does this look like and what are the implications for the business?  First off, the mechanism would be a talent tracker that is based on self-nomination to all at the lower levels of the organisation.  People volunteer/apply for the scheme because they want to and it is not viewed as elitist.  The manager has an input for sure, but cannot veto an application. There are development centres, feedback sessions, individual development plans specific for advancement and the pathway programme itself.  So, what are the implications for the business? Yes, of course, one might need to re-apportion resources set aside for succession planning a little differently!  But in an era when there is a shortage of talent, markets are growing and employees are expected to service ever more demanding contracts, organisations need motivated, focused workers more now than ever before.

 ‘If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients’. (Richard Branson)

Gareth Jones is an Associate of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping organizations through these issues and challenges. Feel free to view our Case Studies and contact us directly to see how we can help you.

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