HR Hero Line

Getting Started with Succession Planning

Question and answer session with Hal Adler

Q: Why is succession planning so important in a tough economy?
Hal: Look at it this way. We’ve seen dramatic rebounds in the stock market. This thing could turn around as fast as it got here, but regardless of how long it takes, employers don’t want to be caught by surprise, so they MUST be looking at their talent pool in the long-term. I’ve heard so many conversations from executives about 3-year strategy sessions that have turned into 3-month strategy sessions. I think that’s a huge mistake in terms of talent management! If you keep your eyes off the long-term picture, you could find yourself in trouble.

Audio conference with Hal Adler: Succession Planning for HR: Finding and Grooming New Leaders Within Your Organization

Q: What are the key components of an effective succession plan?
Hal: There are a lot of moving parts, but the roadmap itself is fairly simple. Employers need to assess the purpose and goals of the company (short and long term), decide what jobs/roles are needed to realize those goals, develop their strategy to get the right people in the right place, then execute.

Here’s the stuff many organizations miss, and what I see can make the difference between a flat or very successful plan: Ask yourself what makes your company’s culture unique? That’s the recipe you need to think about when considering succession candidates; How do we communicate? What is our level of engagement? How do we approach challenges and goals? Remember, it’s not about the process at all. It’s the culture.

Q: Where does HR start if there’s no formal succession plan in place?
Succession planning really is a big umbrella. Your average HR department — be it within a company of 50 or 5000 — probably has some sort of ideology to managing human capital. If asked, you might say you don’t have a succession plan in place, but the fact is, you do. It may fall under the umbrella of your organizational strategy, core competency, talent assessment-recruitment, and promotion process. The key is that you don’t get overwhelmed and look to link the parts that are already in place and working for you. You may not have a A+ succession plan in place, but very, very few companies do. Regardless of where you are, you’re in good company.

Q: What makes a great leader?
Leaders that stand out, the ones that consistently see the best results and highest engagement from their teams have key strengths in 5 common areas. These are the 5 attributes of great leaders; self-awareness, bravery, kindness, innovation, and inspiration. The people who succeed as leaders are the ones who create positive environments around them. Now the challenge is how to find and develop those leaders!