How can I make Succession Planning Effective for my Business?

As organisations mature and grow, a critical component of future-proofing their success is to ensure that ‘ready now’ successors (or as close to ‘ready now’ as possible!) have been identified for business-critical roles. So how can we make succession planning effective in our businesses?

We put the question to our esteemed HR community, the HR Leadership Think Tank, to find out their thoughts.

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8 Questions HR professionals should ask themselves before they Develop Succession Plans

1. What am I trying to achieve through succession planning; am I countering attrition or supporting growth?

2. Why are these roles critical and what would happen if there wasn’t a ‘ready now’ successor identified? Always remember that critical roles don’t just have to be senior!

3. Do my succession plans tie into my company’s five-year plan?

4. Are these roles likely to change over the mid-to-long-term?

5. Who in my industry would be considered ‘future talent’?

6. Should I openly publicise the roles featured in my succession lists?

7. How am I going to engage talent before a role actually becomes available?

8. How am I going to measure the impact of my succession plans?

Key findings from the HR Leadership Think Tank

Be as transparent as possible

For both internal and external candidates, transparency is key. Being open will enhance candidate engagement, ensure both sides’ expectations are aligned and help you jointly map out the candidate’s career aspirations from the ‘get-go’. It’s important to provide as much information as possible, offer realistic job previews and to answer questions openly!

Use a consistent assessment method that inspires candidates

When assessing potential ‘successors’, make sure the ‘playing field’ is level for both internal and external candidates. However, there’s a balance to strike between getting a thorough understanding of someone’s ability / cultural fit, vs. turning a candidate off with an overly intensive process for a hypothetical role. It’s therefore important you make any form of assessment inspiring and engaging so it’s in the candidate’s interest to complete it! For instance getting them to do an exercise that offers useful insight into their personality profile.

Actively encourage ‘boomerang talent’

Never underestimate the value of ‘boomerang talent’! Re-hiring former employees is a great way of bringing freshly skilled talent back to your business; with the benefit of enhanced experience and (presumably) strong cultural alignment. Exit interviews are a good way to set the tone and ensure the door is left open. However, it’s important to nurture talent once they’ve left your business and continue to communicate through alumni events, newsletters etc. to keep them engaged.

Support line-managers to identify successors

It’s important for managers to keep succession planning on their agenda throughout the year (not just at appraisals!) so that internal talent is kept aware of relevant potential opportunities. However, never assume that your line-managers know how to have coaching conversations with employees… Always ensure they are given the necessary tools/guidance to support staff with their career paths.

Remember that succession plans can be lateral

Succession plans don’t always have to involve a step up for the candidate. Considering individuals who would be making a lateral move is a great way to open up your talent pools and get the right person earmarked for a role.

Shout about internal mobility successes

Internal moves should be celebrated and promoted within the business. For instance using social media groups, communities or your intranet to publicise promotions and internal successes.

Always measure impact and value

With all programmes and initiatives, it’s important that you actually take time to reflect back and understand the value that they bring to your business. Looking at measures like the number of placed successors, diversity of hire, time to hire and cost of hire are all good ways to demonstrate the value of succession plans.

If you’re interested in joining our HR Think Tank Series community click here for more information and to apply for membership.

Sarah-May Mans

Written by , Senior Recruiter at Oasis HR Group

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