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Workforce Planning | 3 minute read

Dispelling The Myths of Succession Planning

April 26, 2016

There’s no doubt that succession planning is one of the most important ongoing exercises that any organization will undertake. Even if you have all the talent you need to meet your needs today, it takes a lot of effort to ensure that you’re preparing the next generation of leaders. However, there are many myths that still persist, and all that misinformation can derail or diminish your efforts to find and promote talent.

Today, let’s examine some of those myths and learn what is really needed to ensure you’re set up for future success.

Candidates must come from within

It’s true that many candidates for succession will come from inside your organization. These are people you know and trust, and that understand your culture, policies, procedures and technology. However, simply looking within can be limiting. Organizations need to also consider outside candidates that have the talent and potential to become leaders. This will ensure that you’re always pulling from the best pool of talent. Finding outside candidates isn’t easy. It will require coordination between your talent acquisition and talent management functions, and a strong commitment to strategic workforce planning to truly understand what skills your organization will need as it moves into the future.

Focus on senior leadership

Look beyond the C-suite and senior management level. A well-thought-out program will look at all business-critical roles no matter where they are on the organization chart. After all, these non-managerial productive employees can be developed and coached to be your future leaders. Once again, strategic workforce planning will play an important role as it will help you identify the skills needed at all levels to propel the organization forward. Big data will also be your friend as it provides the quantitative information you need to identify the most productive pockets of employees and successful hiring practices as well as any gaps in skills that might exist.

Conduct behind closed doors

At many companies, succession planning is still shrouded in secrecy. That shouldn’t be the case. Organizations should embrace transparency and keep all candidates in the loop. This is critical today because many employees want to know if they’re being considered for higher positions, as that may affect how they plan their careers. Other individuals may not be interested in promotions, as they might not aspire to be a manager, in other cases they may have a goal to focus on other endeavors. Two-way dialogue is important.

New leaders should look like existing leaders

This is a particularly painful myth. William J. Rothwell, author of Effective Succession Planning, encourages organizations to consider diversity of thought and experience when looking for new leaders. He writes, “… systematic efforts must be made to identify and groom the best successors for key positions, not just rely on managers to clone themselves.” This kind of commitment to diversity cannot just be a program or initiative — it must be woven into the organizational culture and thinking, and championed from the C-suite on down.

It’s a local process

In fact, succession planning requires careful balance between local and national or global strategies. If you’re a large organization, you’ll need to create a platform for your strategy. Think of this as setting the ground rules for finding and promoting talent. Once you’ve created a strong foundation, you’ll need to take into account regional nuances. These differences can be quite substantial if you’re a global company — techniques that are effective in one country may fail to engage and energize employees in another country. Find the right blend (which may take a little trial and error) and you’ll improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your program.

Don’t let your succession planning strategy be jeopardized by outdated thinking! Be sure to download our latest whitepaper today:

[WHITEPAPER] Learn More About Global Succession Planning In This Research  Report.

About WilsonHCG

WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and talent consulting. TALENT.™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are.

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