May 18, 2022

The Three Things Succession Planning Needs Most

Succession planning is one of the most crucial talent management functions for organizations, as a succession plan helps provide for continuity and sustainability through identifying talent for strategic and often highly visible roles. 

For CHROs and talent-management leaders, succession planning has visibility to the highest levels of the organization, with reviews often being held for the board of directors and discussions and plans occasionally being scrutinized by investors.  

But, as Deloitte points out, “while organizations realize that succession planning is an important priority, few manage to orchestrate it well.”​​ 

Here’s the crux of the problem as well as the solutions.

Most succession planning tools focused on a few employees, but should include everyone. Instead of being just for leaders and senior managers, succession planning should involve every member of the organization. Every employee should have a career path showing where their skills and potential can bring them next. And managers should have a dashboard showing who has the potential to fill roles on their team, and provide better visibility to existing internal talent, rather than starting their search from the outside.

Employees quit while there are new opportunities internally. Companies are faced with a number of skills-related challenges when it comes to succession planning.

First, being able to easily identify the makeup of skills they already have within their organization. In a typical large organization, numerous people with the same title such as “project manager” or “engineer” have different jobs. At the same time, numerous people with different jobs across the organization can be using similar skills. For example, dozens of people may do data-science work, but they may not have the title “data scientist,” and as a result they are often spread throughout a global organization. 

Companies have also struggled to correctly identify which skills and potential best allow for people to move into new roles. This causes the planning process to break down, and often results in employee turnover when employees’ skills could have been applied internally. 

Once a company understands the skills and potential of every member of the organization, it can identify skills “hidden” away and find ways for high performers to move internally. A complete view of the organization is increasingly important as emerging skills that are most in need for the future may be surfacing at lower levels of the organization.  

Without a single AI platform for talent, unfairness reigns. Succession planning, like hiring, has often resulted in leaders and managers defaulting to who they know, who they’ve been exposed to, and who has worked in the same location as them. With more distributed, hybrid, and remote work, the problem is exacerbated. 

As Gartner reports, that lack of equity isn’t working for employees. Only 1 in 3 of candidates who look for new jobs search internally within their organization first. Half of employees aren’t even aware of job openings in their organization. 

And when employees do hear about new jobs internally, most of the time they don’t feel that their manager supports them moving internally, Gartner finds.

By having one AI platform for all talent, companies can look across their network to see who has the potential (often based on their adjacent skills) to move into new roles. This creates far more inclusion and opportunity, as no one is disadvantaged based on their location or connections. 

Additionally, a skills-based approach to succession planning incorporating adjacent skills, learnability, and guided career paths helps increase transparency and opportunity for everyone.


Photo by katalin gyurasics on Unsplash