By Anne Nogami, Managing Director, Allegis Group Services
Conducting a brief labor market analysis will give you an idea of how important it is for companies to have complete succession plans in place. The competition for senior-level jobs is growing as more businesses are planning to bring on executives.
The problem is, many companies think a sudden C-level departure "could never happen to us," so while they may have some framework for a succession plan in place, it ultimately proves ineffective when the "impossible" happens.
So when it comes to preparing for the worst, it is critical that organizations look both toward the short- and long-term, as you need to make sure the boat isn't rocked, but also that the overall direction of the business isn't compromised.
According to HRO Today, the four actions to take when deciding upon an appropriate succession plan can be summed up in just a few words: prioritize, analyze, assess and advanced planning.
Prioritize Your Succession Plan
Having strong workforce management solutions in place at all times can ensure that your company will not be thrown for a loop in the immediate aftermath of a sudden executive departure. Rather than resting on your laurels when you believe your staff is up to par, you should be constantly engaged in talent identification, networking and retention of current employees, three essential components to workforce management.
Analyze the Most Critical Components of the Plan
Though all aspects of the company should be included in any strong succession plan, you should take time to identify the major revenue-generating positions. After determining these highly valuable roles, figure out which qualities and characteristics your employees in these roles possess, and begin to identify other professionals both within and outside the company who may have similar traits.
Assess What You Already Have
Look around and observe what your company's current strengths are. Sometimes this can be easy: Say your corporate controller is a workaholic who also happens to know all the ins and outs of the company's finances. If your chief financial officer (CFO) eventually decides to seek greener pastures, guess who's waiting in the wings? That's an easy transition.
However, in areas where your talent may actually be lacking, you need to start pursuing all avenues to find individuals who can come in right away and do the job. Look toward your stronger employees and build an "experience profile," according to HRO, which can help fill in the gaps within your business.
Stay One Step Ahead
Strategic workforce planning is characterized by remaining ahead of the curve and preparing for the unexpected. If you have these solutions - including a thorough succession plan - in place, you can successfully navigate the ups and downs of the labor market and sudden, inevitable leadership shifts.
One of the most difficult things about succession planning is simply that it never ends, Bloomberg Businessweek notes. According to the publication, too many human resources departments and corporate leaders have the mindset of "when the time comes that we need to replace an executive, we'll ramp up our recruiting efforts." Taking this laissez faire approach can be extremely costly in terms of time and resources, as a rapid ramp-up of the recruiting process can leave human resources departments overstretched and budgets tight.
It's simply not possible to predict what each of your senior-level executives is thinking in terms of their career path. More experienced C-level employees are more apt to retire, while younger executives may be constantly seeking new opportunities. Because of this, make sure you remain proactive with your workforce management and maintain an updated, complete succession plan at all times.