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The New World of Succession Planning


The New World of Succession Planning

Succession planning has changed.

In the past, a company was ahead of the curve if it had a succession plan in place at all—even if that plan was nothing more than a list of critical positions and potential candidates. Eventually, a company that had identified pools of talent to fill a specific key position could say they were the most likely to reap the benefits of cutting-edge succession management: high employee engagement, low turnover, and quick transition times. Today, that isn’t the case.

Today, we know better. We understand that a micro-level planning process isn’t broad enough to ensure company-wide success. It now takes a macro-level model to achieve long-term results.

By definition, a microeconomic succession model is limited because it is so narrowly focused on a specific person(s) to fill a specific job role. This narrow focus costs businesses time, money, and resources by ignoring what truly matters when it comes to success: the competencies needed to excel. While the microeconomic succession model does identify pools of talent, it doesn’t include any correlation between shared and differing skills across pools. This means it doesn’t provide insight into the skill gaps that might be present across an organization. Using this model, it is entirely possible for a company to have identified multiple successors for each of its key positions and still not have anyone who can actually succeed in those positions.

A better model focuses on identifying overarching skill gaps across the organization and creating talent pools based on the skill gaps critical to the company’s success. Rather than starting with a job to fill or a person to replace, the macroeconomic succession model begins by defining the critical skills the company needs to thrive, such as risk management, business acumen, and strategic planning. Then, employees are assessed against those skills to identify individual gaps. Next, the data is aggregated to a skills gap matrix of the company as a whole. This makes it easy to identify major gaps in the company and focuses training and development in the right areas. With a focused development plan, a more qualified workforce and more diverse talent pools for succession are created. Instead of training one or two people to perform in a specific job role as defined by the talent pool, the macroeconomic approach focuses on training people in critical skills areas that can span multiple job roles.

Imagine a world with no job titles. A world in which employees are brought onto projects because they have the specific skills needed for that team. A world where the entire company functions as a dynamic, integrated entity that changes and adapts for success at each moment. The macroeconomic succession model creates that world. We live in a skills economy!

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