Research by leading global recruitment company Robert Half
confirms succession planning is currently the most challenging part of HR strategy – a trend that the firm says is set to continue for the next several years.
“Not having a succession plan in place, particularly at the executive level, puts any business at risk,” says Megan Alexander, GM of Robert Half New Zealand.
“The cost to a company when a high-performing employee suddenly resigns can be immediate and the impact felt across the business. Companies need to be prepared, either by having a potential successor in place or by hiring an additional member of staff.”
In a recent survey by the firm, more than half of HR managers (57 per cent) said succession planning is the most challenging part of their strategy, 60 per cent said it will have the greatest impact on the future of the workplace and 48 per cent said it will be their primary challenge in three years’ time.
“Planning for the future talent pipeline also needs to take into account the generational shifts in the workplace, with the gradual retirement of the baby boomer generation set to continue over the next several years,” said Alexander.
“It is not surprising that succession planning is one of the main concerns for HR managers as the anticipated rise in retirements will also impact the company’s recruitment strategy, which will need to be adapted to replacing their most experienced employees.”
Robert Half also offered seven steps to help companies kick-start their succession planning:
- Be proactive in your succession planning
Don’t delay in finding and preparing a promising candidate for a leadership role. Even if you think you won’t need a replacement in the near future, prepping someone to assume an important role creates an invaluable safety net.
- Keep an open mind
While the obvious successor may be the second in command, don’t disregard other promising employees. Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in the position regardless of their current title.
- Make the vision known
Include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the organisation and its objectives.
- Offer regular feedback
When an employee delivers a successful presentation or outperforms on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens.
- Provide training
As you identify your top performers, offer additional training and mentoring to help them develop new skills and refine existing ones. Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen, but also strong soft skills, such as standout verbal and written communication abilities, as well as tact and diplomacy.
- Do a trial run
A holiday is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume some responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.
- Use your succession plan to develop a hiring strategy
Once you’ve identified internal employees as potential successors for key roles in your organisation, take note of any talent gaps. In this way, a succession plan can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.
John Key’s sudden resignation should serve as a reminder to employers – that’s the message from one industry expert who says the shock decision should prove just how important succession planning is.