With more than 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age in the next decade, talent – finding it, retaining it, and developing the next generation of leaders will remain one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today.
The war on talent is back, and the leaders that recognize how critical talent depth is to the success of their organizations are going to be the ones who win. More than 62% of employees report that they would be more engaged and motivated if their company had a clear succession plan. In addition, in the younger population ages 18 to 34, one of the hardest to engage jumps to over 90%.
Yet, even with all the statistics and the positive research, companies still struggle to focus on and execute a clear plan for succession. According to ATD’s research report Succession Planning: Ensuring Continued Excellence, less than 35 percent of organizations have a formalized succession planning process. Why? Let’s look at some of the challenges facing leaders today as they relate to succession planning.
Today’s Succession Planning Challenges
Finding and creating the time is a constant challenge. Leaders are busy running the day-to-day operations of the business, managing change, dealing with competitors, and handling the constant shifts in the marketplace. Making the time to identify, invest in and develop talent is rarely a top priority. In addition, most leaders feel they have time before dealing with finding replacements for themselves or their leaders. Succession is not often thought of as an “on-fire” issue and is more often than not something that leaders determine can take a back seat to more pressing issues.
Even in a good economy, committing the resources to succession planning is not as appealing as buying new equipment or investing in developing new products. Succession planning just isn’t sexy. Committing resources to develop leaders is often the first thing that is cut when the budget gets tight and the last thing added when there is a budget surplus.
3. Identifying Talent
How do you choose, how do you know who would be a good leader, and what happens to the morale of those employees who are not selected for leadership development? These are the questions that stop leaders in their tracks and prevent them from creating a formal succession plan, finding it easier to leave the subject alone rather than choose wrong, or upset a long-term employee.
4. Avoiding Reality
Last but not least, avoiding the reality that their current leaders will leave and they will retire. Succession planning can be an uncomfortable subject for leaders, whether they are talking about retirement, illness, or if the inevitable were to happen. No one likes to discuss who will replace them or think about how the company will survive long after they are gone.
While all these challenges are valid and understandable reasons to avoid succession planning, the fact remains that without a succession plan, you are putting your company, your team, and your customers at risk.
Succession planning is one of the most powerful ways you can impact the success of your organization, both today and in the long term. Succession planning ensures sustainability, and a clear path forward no matter who stays, who leaves, and who is running the company.
So how do you build your succession plan, and where do you start?
4 Strategies To Get Your Succession Planning Strategy Moving
Shifting your mindset is where it all begins. Do your homework, read the statistics and embrace the facts of just how vital your talent pool and a succession plan are to the success of your organization. Succession planning and talent development are some of the highest and best use of your time and resources as a leader. Once you wrap your head around how critical succession planning is, the rest of the process will flow more smoothly. You, as the leader, have to commit.
Before you can build a succession plan, you have to know who you are looking for and what skills and talents they must have. One of the biggest fears around succession planning is choosing the wrong leader and promoting someone who is not good in the role. So before you even start thinking about designing the program, you need to identify the type of leader you are looking for clearly. You need to create your leadership avatar. The model of the type of leader who is successful in your organization. The skills they have, the talents they possess, and the personality traits that make them excel. This avatar becomes your guide, your litmus as to who you choose for succession and, more importantly, who you don’t.
3. Focused Plan
Creating a succession planning strategy can be overwhelming as you ultimately want a plan for every leader throughout your company. So, start small, get focused, and begin creating succession for your company’s most critical areas and the most critical leaders.
4. Engage The Successor
Last but not least, get the successor involved in developing the training program and designing how succession planning should be developed. By engaging the successor, you save time and resources and get a much more motivated employee and dramatically increase your success rate.
These are challenging economic times; we have so much moving and changing in the marketplace. It can be difficult to decide where to focus. If you recognize the impact of talent and leadership development on your organization’s success, you will be far ahead of your competitors. Put these strategies into place, and watch as leadership succession planning is made easy.