Succession planning can be defined as the company’s system for identifying and developing employee potential and future leaders in order to create a self-replenishing supply chain of talent within the organizations. The succession planning process typically includes a learning and development program which is comprised of a combination of classroom based and experiential learning or Stretch Assignments. Stretch Assignments involve putting an executive into a role that will extend the individual beyond their usual functions, which should lead to leadership development.
The corporate recruiter is perfectly poised to help with succession planning. This is because the succession planning process involves identification of potential and emerging talent, but it also requires assessing the capabilities and suitability of this high potential to elevated roles or Stretch Assignments.
- Keys steps in succession planning
Every step of the succession planning process, be that identification, training or matching to new roles should be carried out by functional experts, so managers should identify, trainers should train and recruiters should match high potentials to career succession roles.
- Identification of high potentials
This pool of high potentials is usually developed through the annual performance appraisal process. During this process each employee’s contribution will be assessed against a set of performance criteria that they believe are critical to success at the company. These criteria can vary according to the business’ corporate HR strategy, for example Novartis (a multinational pharmaceutical firm), prizes learning agility, whereas General Electric values the ability to think creatively, take risks and innovate.
- Developing high potentials into future leaders
All employees including high potentials will prepare a Personal Development Plan as part of the annual appraisal process. This plan will be used by the organization’s learning teams to design a personal training plan for each high potential.
This would typically involve placing the high potential candidate on a leadership development program, which might involve an off-site training session. Most of today’s corporate leadership programs will be based on Action Learning concepts. Boeing, GE and others all adopt action learning in their leadership programs.
Alternatively, high potential candidates may be placed on Stretch Assignments. Stretch assignments last typically from 6 months to a couple of years and are used to develop and groom a high potential candidate into a future senior leader.
- Matching high potential talent to elevated roles or Stretch Assignments
Once the pool of high potential talent is established and personal development plans have been prepared, then they need to be matched to new elevated roles or placed on Stretch Assignments that can help to prepare them for more senior roles in the future.
This is the time for the Corporate Recruiter to take the lead
The corporate recruiter, with their expert knowledge of assessment methods, is perfectly poised to participate in the development of succession processes. The corporate recruiter can employ all of their best practices, (which they use, when recruiting externally), to match the high potentials to their elevated roles. The corporate recruiter will ensure that accurate and prescriptive job descriptions and person specifications are developed. They can also perform a range of assessment techniques including structured interviewing, behavioral questioning, and psychometric testing in order to ensure that the best person is matched to the job. The corporate recruiter can ensure that a best practice is adopted in the induction and orientation phase for each candidate that has succeeded into their new role.
This combined approach to succession planning of using managers, trainers and corporate recruiters is the best way to ensure success in any succession planning program.