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What Is Succession Planning?

What is succession planning and what is its important to businesses? How do you put it into practice? We answer those questions here.

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Visier HR Glossary

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is the process of looking at your workforce, determining where positions (especially leadership positions and other hard-to-recruit roles) are at risk of becoming vacant due to retirement and turnover, and considering how you will address potential skills gaps.

Importance of succession planning

Succession planning is important for any company. Especially during times when staffing challenges are high and many specialized positions are hard to fill, companies need to ensure that they will not be at risk of critical skills gaps emerging when someone leaves—from the CEO to hard-to-fill roles like web developers. 

The process of succession planning

In addition to identifying positions that may be at risk of becoming vacant due to known factors – e.g., an impending retirement – organizations should have their eye on any critical positions that would cause potential risk. This could be based on considerations like how closely the role is tied to business strategies and goal attainment, the difficulty of replacing someone in that role, and the contribution the role makes to the organization.

Once critical roles are identified, the next step is to determine whether there is existing talent in the organization that is prepared, or could be prepared, to potentially move into these roles. A good rule of thumb is to identify 3 potential internal candidates for every position identified. 

Planning based on facts and data

Too often succession planning is based on subjective decisions about who might be appropriate to fill an upcoming vacancy. It’s best, though, to base these decisions on subjective data and facts, and solid criteria about the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to succeed in specific roles. 

Technology can help organizations both automate and visualize the succession planning process, providing a graphic depiction of where risks may exist and outlining career paths for employees with the educational backgrounds and performance histories to make them strong candidates. An integrated analytics and planning solutions can help CHRO’s guide board members and C-suite leaders to making better decisions to effectively manage risk. 

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