Succession Program Development: Why It’s Important to Plan Ahead

Michael Gallagher March 12, 2018


Your recruiting process needs to go beyond job openings.

Your recruiting process needs to go beyond job openings.

Is it always better to be prepared? Of course, it is! Unfortunately, preparation takes time and resources, so it’s understandable that once a company is fully staffed, the recruitment process is considered a done deal. The problem with this is: unexpected job openings can be more expensive than succession planning.

Ideally, when an employee departs, there’s at least a two-week notice. However, two weeks is rarely enough time to find a replacement, and it’s rather unwise to depend on the realm of “ideally.” That’s why the best HR departments and recruiters are always thinking about their plan B.

Internal or external?

The first fork in the succession program road is whether to hire from within or bring on someone new to the company. Obviously, the best plan of attack depends on the needs of your business.

If, for example, you’re looking for a fresh perspective, it’s probably best to recruit outside the company. The problem with that approach is dependability – your plan B might become another company’s plan A before you need them. So, having a plan C and D is never a bad idea.

Hiring from within allows for a more seamless transition. It also gives your team the opportunity to groom a successor, so they’re ready when the need arises.

What an effective succession program looks like

In general, an effective succession plan considers the traits and goals of potential replacements in comparison to those currently holding the position. Here’s how to build a successful strategy:

  • Collaborate. Recruiters and HR departments are apt at cultivating talent. Whenever possible, including management and executives in succession planning can help make the process more precise.
  • Everyone has potential. There’s a tendency to focus on candidates who, on the surface, seem to be the best fit. However, when it comes to those already on your team, the benefits of considering all those who are qualified are well worth the effort. For one, discussing career goals and room for advancement can do wonders for employee morale. Secondly, you risk overlooking someone better suited for the role than what might appear on the surface.
  • Know thy job. Broadly speaking, there are two functions of any position: the industry level skills and talents, and how they’re applied in your company. In some ways this goes back to collaboration between recruiters and management – the point is to nurture talent that will be the best fit based on what they can do, and what they know how to do in relation to company needs.
  • Where to set the bar. In addition to understanding the demands of a position, it’s also important to define expectations. Things to consider might include: how much experience is necessary, how much on the job training is acceptable, etc. It’s also important to establish the big-picture objectives of a succession program, such as promoting employee engagement, and how to handle transitions.

Putting your plan into action

Understanding your overarching objective is the easy part. Achieving the goals of a succession program can be daunting, especially when seeking in-demand talent.

Succession planning involves in-depth research and industry knowledge. Many HR departments opt to partner up with a staffing agency to help shoulder this burden.

Mankuta | Gallagher provides recruitment tools to help take the stress out of succession planning. From organization research to pipeline recruiting and talent mapping, our company is built for staffing – it’s our passion!

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