A Case for Succession Planning Beyond the C-Suite

Succession planning is a process that works to ensure smooth leadership continuity within an organization and identify key individuals who can move into leadership positions when necessary. Basic succession planning involves recognizing important roles, analyzing the skills and competencies needed, and developing actionable steps that can be taken to fill these positions with people who align with current and future organizational goals. Planning for the next generation of leaders is critical for organizations that want to stay ahead, but this process should go beyond the traditional focus on the C-Suite and into all levels of the organization.

While succession planning at the top is important and unavoidable, the benefits of planning for leadership changes at all levels include stronger business continuity, improved talent development, and uninterrupted progress toward goals. Having a multilevel succession strategy that addresses the entire company instead of just the C-Suite will push managers to develop talent, encourage growth within the organization, and offer opportunities for internal movement rather than consistently looking outside the organization. Keeping a pulse on the talent within your organization with measurable, quantifiable metrics on leadership ability and skillset will help to be prepared when career changes occur.

How to Strengthen Succession Planning Within Your Organization

There are numerous benefits to strategic workforce planning, and although organizations should ideally be promoting from within when staffing leadership positions, they should not neglect to bring in outside talent when necessary. There should be a focus on hiring new talent earlier in the pipeline so organizations can develop and train them to be future leaders from the onset. Recruiting teams should always seek to bring on high-value and high-potential candidates with skills and experience that contribute different perspectives. Here are some tactics that should be implemented when preparing for a change in leadership and establishing a vision for future roles and responsibilities.

Identify Key Positions and the Skills Required: Before making immediate changes or choosing the employees who will grow into leadership roles without proper research, it is critical to identify which positions would impact the organization most if they were to be suddenly vacant. Starting with these top-level positions is logical due to their far-reaching implications, but the process should not stop here. Within every level, analyze and understand which positions and people are performing crucial organizational functions and bearing large portions of the task load. Additionally, prior to looking for successors in leadership positions, organizations must understand the core competencies and skills required from these roles. These include hard and soft skills, non-negotiable skills, DEI consideration and prioritization, and metrics to analyze potential candidates.

Develop and Upskill Top Talent: After developing a strong understanding of important roles to be filled or important positions that, if suddenly left empty, would disrupt business continuity, organizations should assess and upskill their existing talent. This can be done in a variety of ways, from shadowing leadership to completing training sessions, but equipping employees with the skills they need to move up seamlessly within the organization is essential to organizational continuity. In addition, it helps to ask employees about their professional goals and aspirations to gauge interest levels in different leadership positions and career tracks. Talking individually about performance, aspirations, and growth opportunities allows organizations to better understand their people and the ideal trajectory of their careers as well as gauge each employee’s leadership skills and their potential to develop them.

Utilize Intelligent Technology: Another useful tool for workforce planning and development is modern, cloud-based software that offers organizations insights and analysis of their workforce. Technology like this helps companies search for and identify talent inside their own teams and match employees to positions based on skills and other important metrics. Certifications, skills, and experiences can be congregated and authenticated from HR systems, further helping companies strengthen their succession planning processes. In addition, workforce planning software can help identify the best strategies and next steps to attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent and how to close skills gaps across organizational levels or functions.

The Benefits of Succession Planning

The benefits of succession planning include better internal communication and change management, improving employee retention and leveraging internal skills by promoting from within, enhancing employee engagement and workplace culture, and strengthening the organization’s broader goals and mission. Strategic workforce planning ensures that organizations have a deeper talent pool to source from, equipping teams and people for any sudden changes. In addition, succession planning benefits organizations by continuously improving capabilities through leadership development methods, performance management, and career development.

By ensuring that the right people are in the right places with succession planning beyond just the C-Suite, organizations are more prepared to execute current and future goals. Multi-level workforce planning and development improves flexibility and is a proactive way to prepare for changes in leadership and beyond.

To learn more about how Collaborative Solutions can help with succession planning across your organization, check out our Adaptive Planning page.

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