Overview: Why Is Succession Planning Important In Organisations?
Sooner or later, the future inevitably brings disruption. Sometimes change can be seen a long way off, but sometimes it leaps out unannounced. In either case, when change comes, it pays to be ready.
Indeed, talent management and succession planning enables organisations to define, understand and mitigate business risk by identifying and establishing a leadership pipeline.
Whilst reviewing its pipelining strategy, a major US-based technology multinational had come to understand the crucial roles both diversity and succession planning plays in readying the business for the future. In particular, it identified the need to strengthen these plans in its Western European operations. Here’s how we helped them establish a leadership pipeline model.
The Challenge: Managing leadership risk through succession planning whilst rebalancing gender ratios.
Our client was concerned that the company would be exposed if one of their country leaders stepped down. So, Armstrong Craven was invited to develop continuity strategies to manage such times of change.
Our client was also acutely aware that women were underrepresented at a country leadership level and so succession planning also had to include rebalancing leader gender ratios to at least 30% female representation.
The final part of this project would be to empower the European management team to take responsibility for succession and diversity management across multiple countries.
The AC Approach:
We all recognised that the best candidates would not necessarily be found ‘in-country’, so we widened our view internationally. Particularly, we looked to identify ‘boomerang candidates’ – people working in other locations who might be motivated to return to their native countries. To meet diversity goals, we also prioritised identifying female potential candidates. For example, an experienced female manager from Portugal now working in Brazil might be targeted as a future leader of a Portuguese operation.
We engaged with high-level business and service leaders in each country to find those with the appropriate skills, experience and ambition to ‘step up’ in the future. Candidates who had made successful lateral or project-based moves beyond their core discipline, demonstrating the ability to cope with new challenges, were of particular interest. We widened our search beyond the countries in question for similarly experienced candidates who also had relevant language skills and stakeholder experience.
For each role, we focussed on identifying potential female candidates, particularly in the services where women were notably underrepresented.
To avoid creating rumours and discontent, we took care not to talk to candidates about specific roles. Our approach was to engage with them in conversations that identified their career objectives and suitability for potential promotion and if required, relocation. From them, we were also able to test attitudes and gather insight about competitors and different markets.
Finally, we networked with our country and regional leadership contacts to benchmark our candidates and find out how well they were regarded within their market sectors.
We established a ‘warm talent pool’ containing the CVs and profiles of candidates ready to step up to country leader level. As well as detailing skills and experience, we identified those with readiness or propensity to move. Wherever possible, we prioritised female candidates.
Our client can draw from this talent pool to hire both at immediate points of need and for the future by maintaining the approach and practices that we have established.
As a result: they have opened communication channels with their high-level managers (from high touch to low touch according to readiness to talk/propensity to move); they have strengthened their benchmarking of this group to build a better understanding of a vital talent resource; they have improved their diversity performance, and they have put in place a clear succession plan to which the business has been happy to sign up to.
Additional benefits of this process have been examining and defining the current state of the client’s senior talent pool so that they could benchmark their existing team against the best external talent. In doing so, the client was able to make informed decisions over their leadership talent, and align the best people to their business strategy going forward, thus significantly reducing their risk.
Are you currently reviewing your leadership pipeline? Do you require a helping hand in establishing and identifying candidates who are suitable for this role? Speak to a member of our expert team about how we can help you mitigate risks to your leadership.