Are You Getting the Most from Your Succession Plan?

It can be easy to see the need for succession planning for engagement and high performance in critical positions and for retaining top talent. However, to achieve these objectives, succession planning must be closely aligned with all functions of a company. For most companies, few processes can enhance the value of succession planning more than its integration into hiring practices.

Hiring practices that directly consider succession planning are crucial to creating an essential part of a good succession plan: a pool of high-potential candidates. This pool is also called the succession bench. When it comes time to choose a successor for an important role, you not only have highly qualified candidates, you also have choices. A strong bench allows you to choose a candidate who meets all your requirements and complements your existing team. On the other hand, a weak bench highlights the areas of need for succession planning in your company.

Including succession planning in hiring doesn’t mean weakening or compromising your current selection processes. In fact, it can benefit the company in various ways. For example, succession planning provides clearly defined criteria for selecting a candidate, which helps protect the company when defending its hiring decisions. It also gives decision-makers more valuable information to make the right choice between applicants.

How to Get Started Integrating Succession into Hiring

Merging succession planning with hiring can feel like a daunting task. Companies often have long-standing hiring procedures that might not seem easy to change. However, aligning selection and succession planning doesn’t require that you overhaul hiring. Instead, considering succession provides an opportunity to adjust the selection process that can improve the quality of hiring decisions. Some of the easiest ways to include succession in your hiring process include:

Taking Stock

To hire for succession, an overall understanding of the key positions in an organization is a must. We recommend starting the process by first identifying critical roles in your company. Think beyond your executive team to those employees with all the institutional knowledge or highly specialized skills. Next, try to understand what it is that makes these incumbents so successful in their job. Our approach to creating success profiles can provide you with a deeper understanding of what it takes to be effective at a given role. Plan to select for those traits that indicate success.

Clarifying the Importance

The best way to highlight your company’s commitment to succession planning is through action. For instance, communicate to recruiters, decision-makers, and others involved in selection that succession is a key component of its system. Make it clear that these processes are two pieces of a larger puzzle, rather than serving two separate functions. Explain how you use succession. Finally, stress the importance of considering the competencies, experiences, and skills included in your success profile as part of the hiring process.

Being Transparent with Potential Hires

Be open in discussing succession with potential hires. Telling candidates that the hiring criteria for a position includes consideration for succession can significantly impact the quality of your candidate pool in the following ways:

  1. The best candidates, likely in high demand, might be more interested if they know that you take advancement opportunities seriously. Integrating succession planning into hiring communicates that there is an established process for advancement, and it helps potential hires visualize their trajectory within the organization.
  2. Talking about succession during hiring also establishes a better foundation for the relationship between the company and the potential hire by clarifying both parties’ intentions. Communicating that the organization is hiring for a position with succession in mind gives you a sense of a candidate’s interest in advancement. Not every candidate aspires to more involved roles. Consequently, it can be costly to misidentify individuals as candidates for succession when they would not want the position. A candidate who is not interested in further advancement could still be a valuable addition to an organization. However, it’s important to know which employees to consider as part of the internal candidate pool for a key role.

How SIGMA Can Help

At SIGMA, we want to help your company get the most out of succession planning. Our Launch Series will deliver your company a personalized succession plan in just 30 DAYS with only 8 hours of time from your senior leadership team. We also offer long-term consulting to help you integrate succession planning into your company’s policies and procedures. For more information on our SIMPLE Succession Process, Launch Series, or Succession Planning solutions, contact us and learn more about how we can help your organization reach its maximum potential.