"HR is not very good at succession planning"
46% of HR professionals think they arenot very good or poor at succession planning56% of business people think the same.
The expert view
Caroline Dunk, principal, CDA
Succession planning has always been something of a 'Cinderella', neglected in favour of other priorities. However, setting up an effective succession planning process need not be complicated it is all about asking the right questions.
First, what is the succession planning process for? You need to assess whether the process is primarily about managing risk by protecting against loss of key staff, or about maximising the talent pool available to the organisation. How open are you prepared to be with individuals about their place in the succession plan? What are the succession planning timeframes?
Second, what are the assessment criteria? It is important to assess competence and potential against an agreed set of criteria that reflect the strategic priorities of the organisation. There are leadership and succession models available, where you can plot potential and performance and identify candidates for promotion.
Third, can succession planning be integrated into existing HR processes? Ideally, assessment decisions will be made or confirmed as part of ongoing career discussions so that data is constantly updated, managers are engaged in the process, and any resulting development plans are integrated with other development activity. Roles in the process must be clearly specified, and it can help to have a dedicated succession committee to oversee the process and drive cross-business development.
Finally, consider how you will measure the results. There's a saying that goes: 'What gets measured gets done' - so how will succession data be reported? What measures will be used to evaluate the success of the succession planning process? If these requirements are clear at the outset, they will help shape the overall approach.
It is only once HR professionals have answered these fundamental questions that they can start thinking about the more detailed aspects of succession planning.