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6 succession planning tips your HR Strategy might be missing

With individuals now staying at an organisation on average 3-5 years and most millennials and Generation X’ers expected to move more frequently (albeit for different reasons), effective succession planning is ever more crucial. Succession planning is a key part of building the talent pipeline to deliver organisational strategic needs and should be embraced as a core part of the employee lifecycle.

Whilst every company will have specific challenges relating to employee age, skillset or turnover, Next Steps Consulting have developed 6 useful succession planning tips to incorporate into your strategy. Our high-level outline is below - please do get in touch if you want to understand more.

1. Build an ongoing culture of succession planning – succession planning is not a one-off exercise. It needs to be embedded in the company culture with leadership buy-in and ownership as well as downward throughout the whole organisation. Having succession planning as a standing agenda item at management / leadership level meetings and at relevant employee touchpoints is critical.

2. Plan across functions – talent can and should come from across your organisation, it doesn’t have to follow linear progression within departments or disciplines. The organisational benefits are clear; better cross functional understanding and working, multi skilled staff and best practise shared throughout the business. We often recommend that our clients consider standardising job title language too – employees are frequently put off from applying for roles in other divisions because they simply don’t understand the language.

3. Consider your future needs – not just the here and now. In addition to planning for the succession needs of today, anticipate your company’s future requirements. What are the medium and long term plans for the business and which roles and skillsets are key to successfully fulfil those ambitions and support the organisation’s cultural development?

4. Position and communicate talent management – be sensitive with talent management positioning to avoid alienating those who aren’t motivated by progression or simply aren’t good enough. You don’t need every member of staff to be the next Richard Branson and personal employee growth is not always upwards. Ensure that culturally it is absolutely fine to perform your job well and continue to develop within your existing role. Ensure you communicate the message clearly and the talent management process is transparent across the organisation.

5. Know and seek out your talent – be specific about identifying those with potential within your organisation. Understand who your talent is and plan for how you best nurture, develop and protect those people. Remember to look beyond those who shout loudest. In addition to every individual who pro-actively pushes themselves forwards, look closely and you’ll usually find a number more who are quietly brilliant.

6. Set metrics and continuously review - identify and set metrics that are relevant for your organisation. You’ll need to continually review across the business to ensure your succession planning is embedded culturally and is performing - whether that’s through assessing employee engagement, retention figures or ongoing costs of external vs. internal hires.

Co-creation and collaboration on the people agenda is fundamental for successful organisations operating today. Good succession planning should form part of the overarching organisation design putting talent management squarely at the core of the HR business strategy. Where succession planning is managed well, a culture is created where employees are more engaged, high performing and demonstrate consistent brand values. A company culture with clear succession planning and development process should also demonstrate bottom line benefits including lower recruitment costs, better staff retention and attraction of high calibre employees.

Kevin Thomas, CEO, Next Steps Consulting -

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