First, a little bit of reality: Many of us remember stories about the old days, back when you could count on your employees working diligently for 35 or 40 years and then retiring with a nice pension. They’d show up day after day, confident that the company would always be there for them and that they, in turn, would always be there for the company. They’d move through their careers, stepping slowly up the ladder while the wheels of industry turned.
But it hasn’t been that way for quite a while now. We’ve had recessions and layoffs and waves of hiring, all coming and going in a mysterious cyclicality that we pretend to understand and attempt to predict, all with middling results. And to top it off we’ve got entirely new generations of employees who appear to have graduated with degrees in how to befuddle us. These Xs and Ys and Millennials (and whatever comes next) sometimes seem like aliens from another planet dropped loosely into our workforce. (And those groups—all of whom have differing expectations of what employers should provide them, now amount to more than half of our country’s currently employed population.)
Meanwhile, staffing requirements ebb and flow. New skills are needed every time you turn around. And the people around you—the ones that make your company hum—well, they come and go, too. These days you have to be prepared. You need to know that the best people will want to stay and that the skills and knowledge they have remain, too—even if some of the specific people don’t.
That means you need to plan for what happens when people leave, and over the next couple of blog posts we’d like to share with you some of the best ways to do that.
Succession planning is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. And it’s not something you do now and then—it’s a program, something you build into your company’s DNA, something you manage. The American Management Association recognizes this truth, calling succession management “A management development program that is integrated with strategic business initiatives and that guides an organization in identifying, developing, and retaining employees with the potential to fill key leadership positions.”
And everybody seems to agree that it’s important; a recent survey from SHRM, The Society for Human Resources Management, found that succession management was the #1 issue of concern for HR departments. Yet for some reason, not enough companies are actually doing anything about it. The AMA study found that very few actually had a comprehensive, integrated program—only 8% of all companies out there…
If you’re one of the 92% who would like to build a solid succession program, there are some simple ways to get started. We’ll look at some of these in our next posting.