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Succession Planning for success

We recently met up with local HR expert, Victoria Chidgey, to hear her thoughts on talent management and succession planning, and how important it can be to small and medium sized businesses. This is what she said:

All businesses should have a succession plan in place to ensure that if a key team member leaves, or is unable to work for a period of time, the organisation can continue to operate and evolve. Talent management is a way of identifying, and focussing on, the needs of an individual to meet their potential and meet an organisation’s succession needs. It involves identifying strengths and weaknesses of individuals and has been defined as: the process by which an organisation identifies, manages and develops its people both now and for the future (McKinsey).

It is often easy to think about talent management just applying to large corporates with large HR teams and mature business processes. However the principles of talent management can also be crucial to small and medium sized businesses as they work out how to grow in the most cost effective way. Increasingly I see organisations looking for talent outside of their businesses due to last minute recruitment and difficulties with skills shortages, particularly in managerial and professional positions. The same businesses are then often overlooking key talent who could be developed and considered for internal promotions. This can result in increased staff turnover, causing further gaps in critical positions. It’s a vicious circle that could easily be addressed with an effective talent and succession planning strategy.

Many businesses operate in rapidly changing environments that, in turn, will demand a different set of skills from future employees. It may be that many existing employees can develop these key skills and, if so, this may be the cheapest way forward. Consider this: an IT Manager of 20 years ago was concerned with technology and getting software in on time and to budget. These days, the same IT Manager may be responsible for driving a balanced score card approach, identifying and managing stakeholder needs, customer service, finance and driving new technologies and innovation. This increased complexity will require more broadly skilled managers to ensure the business remains a leader in its field. To recruit such talented and broadly skilled IT managers will cost money. To develop these competencies from within the organisation may be a more sensible and time efficient process.

So how simple is it to develop this?

Consider how vulnerable the organisation would be if critical positions were not filled or if key people were to leave.

Are these people readily available within the business - could they be developed over time? Ask yourself how difficult is it to recruit such people and at what cost? Feeling nervous? Then introducing a scheme is definitely the way forward. You would need to determine your critical roles, and create succession plans for each of these roles. Consider how to rate those people ready both now and in the future for such positions and how you will develop and coach them accordingly. Agree a process where you will identify, review and measure progress to ensure both talent and succession are developed. Overall, to remain future focused and ahead of your competitors, focus on the development of knowledge, not just the people.

For more information on introducing a talent management and succession strategy within your business, then please contact Victoria at CleverHR on Victoria@clever-hr.co.uk

Victoria is an HR expert, specialising in the field of Talent Management and also a regular guest lecturer at Bath Spa University on Human Resources practice.

This article was first published on the Artemis Clarke blog.

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