Succession What? Why YOU Need to Care about Succession Planning

cliffBy Greg Belkin, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Peoplefluent

Human Resource (HR) managers at many organizations are currently navigating a significant shift in their workforce as nearly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. So what does that mean for you, a new employee hoping to race up the corporate ladder?

It could mean huge opportunity.

Succession Planning 101

While employees new to the workforce rarely consider the impact of succession planning, promotions or role changes in upper management can affect the staff supporting those roles. Movement above means movement below.

Succession planning, a systematic approach for evaluating, developing, and promoting talent from within an organization, enables HR managers to quickly and successfully fill out companies’ leadership rosters and avoid organizational risk.

You’re asking “…and I should care because?”

[Insert your name here] fits into the recipe for [insert your company name here]’s long-term growth. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in five years, you could be considered for a career-changing internal promotion or role shift. We get from here to there via the succession planning process.

Carefully orchestrated succession planning offers the following benefits, which in turn benefit you:

  • Visibility– Let’s say a position in another territory becomes available. With a succession planning process in place, management has improved access to internal talent and can identify the qualified candidate working in another line of business (perhaps you). You wouldn’t want to be passed up for consideration just because another business line didn’t know you existed. The company now has a viable opportunity to save time and money by promoting an internal candidate who possesses the necessary skills and history of success within the organization to excel in the new role.
  • MotivationPlanning tools can help identify and groom high-potential employees for eventual promotion. A data-based framework to promote people based on merit inspires employees to perform their best, even if they are unaware of the succession planning system itself. Plugged-in employees often know which of their peers drive results. If those hard workers routinely get opportunities and assignments, other employees will be apt to model that behavior. In contrast, no one likes to play in a rigged game. If employees see their hard-working peers passed over for promotions in place of external candidates, then staffers will begin to wonder what they stand to gain by working hard.
  • Forward-Looking Planning– HR managers need to evaluate possible successors even before roles become vacant. An automated system makes succession planning less of an event and more of an ongoing process that prepares organizations for unforeseen scenarios such as sudden employee departures. You may be factored into the equation before a role is even available. Visualizing yourself as an integral part of the staffing mix is a key consideration- your company may have big plans for you!

Consider the following questions:

  • Does your company shed light on an effective rewards program?
  • Do they tailor rewards and compensation packages to keep employees highly engaged and motivated, and ensure the highest probability of retention?
  • Does your company promote people based on merit inspiring employees to perform their best?

These questions are all fundamental aspects of succession planning. Though often incorporating this type of process is easier said than done.  Many companies, perhaps even your employer, will use succession planning software for automation. Whether you’re a new hire or a young CEO leading a start-up, your company is likely doing all that it can to hire, develop and retain top talent. Companies want to invest in their workforce.

The Takeaway

Understanding the impact of a change on organizational workforce dynamics is important for employees of all ages and thoughtful succession planning is a critical aspect of long-term company success.  In today’s business environment,  marked by employees that often need to be convinced to remain loyal to a single employer, top talent is even more likely to flee as workers look for the next “gig” or opportunity. It’s essential to understand how succession planning maps to the bigger picture, and how it can impact you.

– more – Effective Career Transitions

Mr. Belkin is a senior product marketing manager at Peoplefluent®, a leading social human capital management technology company. He is focused on the marketing efforts for the company’s Talent Management product line, generating market awareness with analyst organizations, customers, and partners, and educating the industry on key HR-management-related trends and issues.

He can be contacted at or (781) 530-2044.

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