Tips to Succession Planning and Redeploying Top Talent

September 03, 2014 by Raymond Lee

The end of the summer is officially here and Labor Day marks the time when HR is gearing up for end of the year reviews, salary increases, and succession planning. A good succession planning program is more than just establishing back-ups; it is identifying needs for talent within the organization and developing individuals for current and future responsibilities. It is also more than just crisis management. The whole point of establishing a good succession plan is to divert crisis, not just manage it.


Executives are always dealing with the issue of how best to develop the next generation of leaders. Succession planning is about being proactive and prepared. Leaders should have a constant finger on the pulse of their workforce. This means having an understanding of exactly who and how many employees are nearing retirement as well as having an understanding of business trends and industry fluctuations. Below are tips to succession planning and redeploying top talent.

Succession Planning Tips For HR

Look into the Future

As plans are formed, a deep look into the future is vital in identifying gaps in talent before they arise. Establishing a plan in advance will allow leaders the chance to develop top talent and targeted employees. Looking for the gaps before they affect the organization is only effective if leaders are honest about their talent pool. The succession planning process will often enable leaders to see things that they would not have otherwise looked for. Taking a real look at talent and leadership in regards to the present and the future of the organization, allows leaders to see what needs to happen and change now.

Getting Everyone Involved

The higher up the ladder these employees go, the more upper-level leaders should have a say in the decision. Getting everyone involved with succession planning does a few things for the organization. Getting leaders involved means more perspectives for a well-rounded choice. Additionally by starting a dialogue with leaders, it ensures that there will be more of a consensus on succession decisions. Finally, when everyone is involved throughout the process, you won’t end up making last minutes decisions in a panic. If a team is involved in this decision, it is easier to avoid making a rushed and bad move.

This is a Process

This isn’t a one-time decision; it is an evolving process. A good rule of thumb is to track 3 employees for each future position. These may change over time. Changing out employees on a succession plan can be because of industry or talent changes. Perhaps the same set of skills and strengths for a particular position have changed due to technology or industry needs. This can mean switching out a candidate. There is also the chance that higher quality talent will arise in the organization. No industry or talent is stagnant. There will always be change.

Assess Your Top Talent

This biggest mistake I see leaders make in the succession planning process is not developing key behaviors of top talent. Organizations tend to focus on technical skill, but spend little time developing key competencies, such as communication, leadership, decision making, problem solving, delegation, etc.

HR can play a key role in this process and use personality assessments such as DiSC to help develop behavioral competencies as well as skill. This will ensure employees are well equipped to step into the role that they are slated for tomorrow. Developing your employees everyday will help them grow and keep your company prepared for change.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee is the President of Careerminds, a global outplacement company based in Wilmington, Delaware. He has over 20 years of human resource, outplacement, and career consulting experience. He has his bachelor’s in psychology and holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. He is active in SHRM and ATD. Raymond’s been featured on SiriusXM Business Radio, CareerTalk, and the Wall Street Journal and he’s published a book titled, Clocking Out: A Stress-Free Guide to Career Transitions.

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