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There are the more or less tactical replacements of personnel, carried out at very short notice, sometimes in a hurry, even "at the drop of a hat"! These improvised mercatos, let's be honest, are essentially based on the resources available at the time... And then, there is THE "succession plan" worthy of the name! The one that is a strategy and that must be built with method... A few guidelines to achieve it.

Definition of succession planning

The succession plan is intended to guarantee continuity of performance for an organization, department or service by organizing the succession of key positions in advance. To do this, it is necessary to anticipate and plan the strategic evolution and replacement of the elements that make up the organization.
The succession plan is an integral part of the Strategic Workforce Planning and talent management policy. It consists of:

  • To manage the human capital of the company, through its skills key and its aspirations,
  • Attracting the best talent of the moment through an effective recruitment policy
  • To retain them through a loyalty policy, and to allow them to develop through adequate and relevant training efforts .

An efficient succession plan should:

  • To promote, in the long term, the flexibility of the organization,
  • To preserve at all costs, the human assets of the company,
  • To limit the risks and meet the needs of the company,
  • Identify the specific technical and professional skills that will be essential for the future,
  • To know the aspirations of employees, to help them fulfill them, and, in so doing, to ensure their retention.

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What are the 5 steps to building a succession plan?

The secret of a successful succession plan lies in its dynamic, not static, approach. It is based on a constantly changing talent pool. Adaptations are made at the pace of the organization's natural evolution: high potentials promoted are in turn replaced in the pool, key positions and critical positions are constantly re-evaluated, etc.

Step 1: Develop an overall talent mapping

The first step is to identify the company's "key positions", those that we know represent an undeniable competitive advantage. But these are not the only ones! We must also list the "critical skills " (those that require rare expertise and are therefore difficult to replace), as well as potential future international leaders. This step comes to life during the People Reviews.

Step 2: Quantifying the Potential for Advancement to Target Positions

Among the talents mapped, there are inevitably high potentials to be integrated into the succession plan. The challenge is to detect and evaluate them with sufficient objectivity. To do this, there are good evaluation tools that do not just rely on the simple (often quite subjective) recommendations of managers. It is therefore advisable to have a system in place to identify and evaluate potential candidates for taking over key positions and to keep them ready to assume new responsibilities if needed.
Caution should be exercised when faced with a manager who organizes his or her succession by positioning his or her successor from the outset... This trend, which is still prevalent in France, is offset by the objectification of succession plans and the development of a matrix for allocating the company's various talents according to their potential and results, for example.

9 Grid boxes
The 9 Box Grid for talent positioning

Step 3: Create a pool of "high potentials"

An organization of any kind can find itself without a key employee overnight. It is then vital to have a sufficiently qualified resource to replace him or her at a moment's notice. Not only does this optimize the company's business continuity, but it also reduces its dependence on the external market in the event of a change in management or a vacancy in a key position.
The healthiest thing to do is to be transparent with your "pool of high potentials". Informing an individual that he or she is "part of the identified elements" represents a lever of commitment for the person concerned.

If you want to know more about the concept of high potential, our page"High Potential Management Practices" will give you all the keys.

Step 4: Asses your succession plan

What are the questions to ask yourself when evaluating your estate plan?

  • Have you acquired enough agility to deal with the constant evolution of your ecosystem?
  • Is your leadership pipeline sufficient?
  • Is your pool aligned with your business priorities?
  • How does your internal pool compare with the external market in terms of skills and professional qualities?
  • Do you know of any weaknesses in terms of retention?

Objective answers to these questions provide a good basis for evaluating your estate plan.

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