Over the years much has been written on succession planning. Even when I was a Gen X’er in school I was told at numerous times how I would be posed to replace retiring Baby Bommers. Succession planning has been on the minds of many for many years. However, succession planning is one of those things that does not get done, despite the conversations. Why? The reasons are multiple ranging from activity that has no immediate payback to generational gaps to complete cluelessness as how to approach the subject.
Often it is put into simple terms; an ongoing process of identifying and developing your current employees so they are ready to acquire key roles when the need arises (Lauter, 2009). This is about the same as saying a successful marriage is about communication. This may be true but how much communication, when, what tone, how often, verbally or visually and even after all that you still can’t read your spouse’s mind. We are people in a people business and that alone makes it the most unpredictable and complex industry on the planet. Yet identifying, which means predicting, behavior is a critical part of succession planning in combination of having the foresight to identify (predict) what a job role may entail 5 to 15 years from now.
When I was in high school, which is in essence a multi-year succession program, a large majority of the existing jobs today did not exist and many of the existing roles have changed dramatically. How could one predict the changes? One could not as it is with succession planning – risk is everywhere! Therefore succession planning is as much about identifying and developing as it is about vision and risk. These attributes help keep the topic out of reach of most companies and create an opportunity for value creation by others and companies.
In recruitment and staffing we already search and find people that are qualified and fit the needs of our customers but we need to have a bigger picture and approach succession planning from a different perspective to be successful. Succession planning is about long-term vision, not short-term placements. Succession planning also has to integrate internal and external hiring and candidate profiling. Succession planning goes beyond skill set, qualifications, and cultural fit to being a system of selection – a set of interdependent components forming an integrated whole.
Are recruitment firms well positioned to meet this need, drive the system or fit into the client system? Most agencies and consulting companies I interact with suggest otherwise. We don’t talk succession planning almost ever; however, those who crack the code will have a competitive advantage over those that struggle with the concept and how to use it to create greater client value.
Executrade – Your Recruitment Specialists