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Succeeding in succession

The strongest talent development programs are the result of a coherent organisational talent management effort: from strategic resource planning, to recruitment and assessment, pipelining, career planning, career development, engagement, mentoring and coaching and (last but not least) learning and development. As true as this plea may be, it can be daunting to start treating talent management as such an integrated process. What would be a good place to start?

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If form follows function, we have to begin with the end in mind. In terms of the ROI on talent: we have to begin with the business benefit we aim to achieve with our coherent talent management effort.

Talent management can reap substantial business benefits, as we’re proven over the past 10 years that we’ve been working on this topic with our clients. Of single highest value will be timely and adequate succession of key and critical positions. Why? Since the out of pocket and baseline operating costs of these positions remaining unfulfilled is substantial. Succession can incur costs over twice the annual salary of the key position in question.

If key positions are the key to integrated talent management, how will you be able to pinpoint them in your organisation? We propose the following two questions to get you started:
What will your workforce look like in a few years to achieve the objectives of your organisation?
What would be the consequences of the developments in your sector and the labor market for staffing your organisation?
Use these questions to kick off your Strategic Personnel Planning. Use them to compare your current staffing against future requirements and determine the gap. You’ll start to get an inkling which positions are essential to future-proof your organisation.

For each of the key positions your analytical efforts have uncovered ask yourself and your organisation this:
By when do we expect (or even guess) that succession will have to take place?
Are we nurturing at least 2 people to replace each of our key positions?
Will they be ready to onboard in their new job when the time comes?

You’re right, reality bites and no plan survives contact with reality. Our efforts in strategic personnel planning are akin to what futurists do. We may have certainty when our people reach their pension, but far more often we may only have a hunch when our key positions will become vacant. This may be a guessing game, but any guess is an improvement over unforeseen vacancy of key positions.

How are you faring with this topic that may hold such huge potential benefits for your organisation? How are you measuring up against your competitors, your peers? We love to hear your thoughts!

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