Succession Strategy Planning: 5 Common Mistakes and Best Practices

Posted by Stacey Curry on May 20, 2021 2:32:58 PM

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With more than 10,000 Baby Boomers entering retirement each day, organizations will spend more time contemplating how best to capture and retain departing talent. Combine this need with how quickly workforce, customer requirements, and buying behaviors are changing, you have a perfect talent retention storm.

As Jim Hancock, IMEC Regional Manager, mentioned in his recent blog post Disruptive Innovations in 2020 to Manufacturing Trends in 2021, “…we will see a shift in operations to enhance operational staff’s productivity with a variety of digital tools. Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become more common in our standard work and onboarding. Wearable technology, machine monitoring, and automation will change the environment for operational personnel”. Indeed, the future of work will look vastly different from today’s standards. Jim’s insight creates a solid business case for taking the necessary time to drive the evolution of your succession strategy plans.

Organizations can be overwhelmed at the thought of succession strategy planning or unprepared to replace individuals in key positions. Here are five common mistakes and best practices to consider when approaching succession strategy needs.

1. Lack of Transparency

Best Practice: Being transparent about impending transitions is a vital component when discussing succession. Open and honest communication builds trust, helps employees feel assured during such disruption, and helps minimize any doubts and fears of the unknown employees may experience. Be upfront and share the succession strategy plan with employees.

2. HR Can Handle It

Best Practice: Select a succession strategy planning team to help analyze the number of impending retirements and transitions with in next 1-5 years. Consider involving various members of leadership along with representation from human resources. This is an organizational transition, and it is best to create an inclusive, collaborative process.

3. Succession Planning is a One Time Event

Best Practice: An effective succession strategy plan addresses impending retirements and can also help address the needs for crucial backups and individual development in any position category. Broadening the definition of succession can help organizations take pro-active steps to build high-performing and agile work environments. Once a succession framework is established, an annual succession review helps companies remain pro-active with talent retention.

4. Identifying Successors First

Best Practice: Before identifying potential successors, revisit the organization chart and consider how the company’s business strategies might evolve over the next 5-7 years. Create a position profile for key positions and discuss with the succession strategy planning team how these positions have changed over time. What new capabilities are required to address changing business strategies and the future of work? Once new capabilities are determined for each position profile, align the talent and skills of potential successors to those roles.

5. Potential Successors are Ready Now

Best Practice: Create an advanced development plan with identified successors and actively monitor their growth and progress. Pay attention to who is taking initiative to use the tools and resources provided by the company to enhance their growth. Who are the ones asking for continuous feedback and coaching opportunities? You may be able to identify emerging leaders who otherwise blend in with their peer group and likewise, you may discover a few people targeted as high potentials who display lower levels of aspiration for growth and succession.

Creating an effective succession strategy plan reduces companies cost to hire, reduces unwanted turnover, and increases the ability of capable leaders who are better prepared to assume succession roles.

Succession strategy planning matters – for employees and for the future of organizations. If you need help formulating or strengthening your succession plan, contact the experts at IMEC.

Featured Webinar

PASS THE TORCH: Where to Begin to Create an Effective Succession Plan Webinar

During this webinar we will highlight the need for succession planning and identify 3 initial, and essential, steps to effectively begin a strategic succession plan. This session is targeted to those in leadership, human resources, and talent acquisition roles.

This session highlights key aspects of effective succession planning, including:

  • Development of an ongoing talent strategy process of defining organization roles and capacities needed for future state success
  • Pro-active planning for impending retirements and/or leadership transitions
  • How to evaluate and prepare individual contributors for leadership positions

Join us live on June 16, or watch the recording .


Stacey Curry

Written by Stacey Curry

Topics: human resources, leadership, made in il, operations, strategy, succession planning, workforce development

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