It's a common assumption that most organizations don’t do succession planning. Often the reasons include the high level of administration involved with succession planning and the difficulty in identifying and developing talent. It’s hard enough to figure out what the business world will look like in three years, much less what the organization’s talent needs will be.
However, succession planning is still important. During SHRM’s “Succession Planning: Preparing for Future Talent Needs” seminar, Mike Deblieux SHRM-SCP suggested that organizations tell their succession planning story.
Organizations put a tremendous emphasis on their branding story, product/services story, or their vision for the company story. Why not their succession planning story?
Forget for a moment the conversation about “do we or don’t we tell a candidate they’re a part of the plan”. If we think about what’s involved in succession planning, there’s still plenty to tell in your story.
- How does the organization decide what the critical jobs are?
- What method does the organization use to identify talent?
- What’s the company philosophy about investing in talent?
The answers to these questions create a story that employees and candidates want to know. The company’s succession planning story makes the process future-focused. During the seminar, Mike gave us a recommended activity that we could use to jump start our creative process and gain a new perspective where succession planning was concerned.
Every three to five years, pack up your office on a Friday. Come in as a new manager on Monday. Rearrange your furniture. Put away your stuff. Get a little uncomfortable. Experience what it feels like to be a new manager within your organization.
Maybe if we remember what it feels like to be a new manager – unpacking things, trying to get settled in, figuring out a work environment that will make us productive – it will help us craft that succession planning story.
And it will help us keep the company’s succession planning story alive. During the seminar, one of the participants talked about using post-it notes as a way to discuss talent readiness in succession planning. I thought it was terrific symbolism. An employee can be added, removed or moved in the succession plan as simply as adding, removing or moving a post-it from one document to another.
Our succession plans should be fluid documents and our succession planning story should be as well. It should be a story that aligns with the company strategy and brand. As those things change, so will the story.
Maybe the reason that companies don’t do succession planning is because they just haven’t figured out their story. Because once you have the story, then the planning part falls into place.