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Blog By: Jeanne Hines, SPHR

It’s often said that failure to plan is a plan to fail.  Don’t let your business fail because you didn’t start planning for someone to take your place, should you become disabled or retire.  As much as 40% of the U. S. workforce will become retirement eligible by 2020. While our baby boomers are aging, the pool of people coming in behind them is significantly smaller.   Is your organization prepared for dealing with the possibility of the loss of key talent?  Companies can very successfully plan for the retirement of their senior leaders through training, developing and mentoring current employees who have the potential to become strong future leaders.

Succession management is a systematic process by which an organization identifies and develops high potential employees to potentially fill key business positions through a series of carefully planned and executed activities.  As organizations have become flatter, there are fewer people from which to choose for new leadership positions, so hiring is even more critical for all positions.

Succession planning is a business risk that requires attention and commitment to mitigate.  It begins with planning and articulating long term goals for the company.   What will the business look like in 5-10 years?  What kinds of talent will be needed to perpetuate the company?  Will new skills be needed?  How will roles and responsibilities change? 

Once the long term vision of the company has been identified, organizational needs and critical job roles and capabilities needed to carry out the goals must be determined.  Key positions within the organization are not limited to top leadership, but those critical to business operations. 

After determining the vision, an assessment of current staff is held by key leaders in the organization.  Some companies make this an annual event called “People Day.”  There are many ways to go about this, but a very useful tool is one called the 9 Box Method.  This method, developed in 1957 by Igor Ansoff, the father of Strategic Management, began as a matrix used for analysis or planning.  There are many iterations available, but the one I found especially helpful was used to assess the combination of potential and performance (high, medium, low) and gave recommendations for each.  For example, someone who was considered to have high potential but who is a low performer obviously needs coaching, however, is the lack of performance due to the wrong job or the wrong boss?

You can obtain more information about this method by listening to our Succession Management webinar on February 6th 2013 at noon.  Register here.
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