Part of the ASPIRE Talent Management series

Succession Planning – a key element of your Talent Management strategy, along with Acquisition, Improvement and Retention & Engagement – helps to identify and prepare future talent to fill critical and key roles to safeguard business continuity.

Using a six step approach like this helps to simplify what is can be seen as a big topic, and often a daunting task for an organisation to start to put in place. You may be doing some of this already, but if not certainly consider some of these steps, feel free to give them a try and share this as you see fit. There’s a visual summary of this 6 step approach at the end of this article.

Step 1 – Identify critical and key roles aligned to your vision and business goals

As shown by the model below, the first step is about identifying the critical and key roles in your business, particularly aligned to the vision and business goals of the organisation over the next three to five years or so..

Step 2 – Develop robust Job Descriptions and Job Success Formulas (JSFs)

Once you’ve identified those key roles, you will need to develop robust Job Descriptions and what we call Job Success Formulas, or JSFs. The job description should be a true interpretation of what’s required for any particular role. What is often missing, but should be included are KPIs – the key performance indicators which will tell you what success looks like, and so you can measure the person against that particular role and its requirements.

Job Success Formulas look at the suitability factors that are important for that role. This will include exploring behavioural traits which are required for the role; the essential traits, desirable traits and the behavioural traits to avoid. Understanding those areas of behaviour, the intrinisic motivators and the drivers that are important for the role plays a key part in determining the requirements for a particular role.

Step 3 – Assess employees for eligibility and suitability

Step three is about assessing employees. We don’t only assess the suitability factors as above, but also the eligibility criteria, the skills, qualifications, knowledge etc. To help with this we would certainly recommend you use an objective assessment tool – there are lots of them out in the market. Choose one which is simple enough to implement and can help you to make those decisions. We use Harrison Assessments – you can find out more here

Step four – Create a professional development plan.

Once you have identified the talent, the individuals, using the assessment process you then need to create a good robust development plan. We would strongly advise as part of that development plan you would need to include coaching and mentoring to support your employees development journey. This doesn’t have to be the same person, as there are key differences between a mentor and a coach. The mentor could be somebody from within your organisation who can give support, and use their experience to help the person being developed. A coach will use a more structured and formal process to help your talent to improve performance in their role.

Step 5 – Develop top talent potential with a clear career navigation

It’s important that your high potential talent has an opportunity to develop, but also to ensure that they have got that clear pathway in terms of their own career navigation. If you don’t provide this for them, they’ll certainly navigate a career, but they’ll probably do that somewhere else. So to ensure you are retaining your top talent, give them a clear career navigation pathway, so they can see where they are headed, how long it will take for them to get there, and what development they will need along the way.

Step 6 – review the employees and roles and adapt accordingly in line with business continuity plans.

As mentioned at the start of this article, it’s all about safeguarding business continuity, about trying to predict and be ready and prepared for if something happens with your people, with your talent. You need to make sure you’re constantly reviewing that process and it’s a live process, not a document that has been created and put in a drawer to gather dust. You should be regularly reviewing your employees and their roles and incorporating it into regular conversations with your senior team.

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This wheel provides a reminder of those 4 key elements of ASPIRE: Acquisition, Succession Planning, Improvement, Retention and Engagement, which covers the full talent management cycle.

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