Succession planning and talent development go hand-in-hand. Talent management starts with the employees, helping them to live up to their potential. Succession planning starts with critical roles and looks for talented individuals to fill them. The two enhance and complement each other.

Succession planning integrates perfectly with talent development and management. 

Successful organizations plan for the future and understand the importance of a long-term perspective. For such organizations, succession planning is as natural as breathing. Looking to fill critical roles within the organization with in-house talent makes sense from every angle.

Homegrown talent understands the business inside out, has reasons to be loyal, and will appreciate the opportunities a well-structured succession plan presents.

Succession Planning is Critical for Success

From the perspective of long-term organizational stability and success, succession planning provides solutions to three problems.

  • Succession planning aims to fill critical roles within the organization. Some employees are easier to replace than others. A junior salesperson is not the equivalent of a departmental leader when it comes to succession. The primary goal of succession planning is to ensure that no critical role goes unfilled for long and that senior leadership doesn’t have to onboard outside talent to fill the gap.
  • Effective succession planning ensures leadership continuity. To function effectively, organizations need continuity on the level of senior leadership and management. A well-implemented in-house succession program can help companies avoid disruption.
  • Finding and developing talent for key positions is the essence of succession planning. Talent management programs ensure that high-potential employees receive the attention and support they need to develop into the leaders of the future. Ideally, talent management should result in enough high-potentials going through the grooming process to take over when someone in a critical leadership position retires or leaves.

Succession Planning and Talent Management: A Match Made in Heaven

Succession management and talent development should exist in a symbiotic relationship. One needs the other, and, at the same time, the success of one enhances and supports the other.

  • Talent management and leadership development start with the employees. Through these processes, executive coaching professionals guide talent, learning about the individual needs and abilities of employees and their suitability/preference for a particular career path. Leadership development optimizes available talent to improve the workforce and create suitable leaders.
  • Succession planning starts with the leadership positions the organization needs to fill. It searches for candidates among the high-potential employees of the organization who have what it takes to pick up the reins should one of the current leaders be promoted, retire, or leave the company.

By aligning and integrating talent management and succession planning, organizations can cover their future leadership needs while motivating their employees through meaningful and practical opportunities for advancement. Such an approach facilitates the retention of the talent the organization is most likely to need in the future.

Strategic Planning and Succession Management

In addition to integrating their succession planning efforts with talent management, organizations should integrate these leadership development efforts with their strategic plans.

The current leadership needs of a company will likely change in the future. Since succession planning requires a long-term perspective, it should take into account future leadership needs.

Succession planning is a long-term organization-wide effort. 

Strategic plans and the guiding vision of the organization determine not only the current situation but the impending talent gaps it faces as well.

Measuring Succession Planning Effectiveness

Although leadership development programs are critical to successful succession planning, their number and the resources these programs use up do not constitute reliable indicators of the effectiveness of the process.

Those evaluating succession management efforts should focus on well-defined outcomes, such as:

  • The number of critical leadership positions filled through internal promotions.
  • The number of promotions originating from the pool of high-potential employees the organization has identified.

Succession planning is not simply an effort to find employees within a department or division to replace colleagues in key positions. It is an organization-wide undertaking that requires integration with leadership development and strategic planning.

To learn more about leadership development and executive coaching, take a look at my books.


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