- Employers have largely caught on to the idea of succession-planning strategies, but the implementation of such strategies may vary, according to a recent survey of 243 organizations by the Association for Talent Development.
- Notably, employers diverged over how to identify internal candidates. Most said they used performance reviews or nominations from senior leaders, per ATD, although organizations that identified candidates through in-person assessments or nominations from a talent development department were more likely to be high performers. Additional methods for identifying candidates included mentoring and coaching, stretch assignments and formal learning, among others.
- Fifty-seven percent of employers that did not have a succession-planning process cited a lack of resources, and 51% cited a lack of succession-planning knowledge and skills within their workforces. Slightly fewer, 44%, cited a lack of support from senior leadership.
COVID-19 shook up organizational workforce planning in many ways, and succession plans are no exception.
A 2020 survey of CHROs by University of South Carolina researchers found that the pandemic created a need to look beyond emergency succession plans in favor of broader continuity plans focusing on both long-term and short-term needs. Furthermore, an increased focus on business continuity “seems to have changed the nature of how many companies are approaching ongoing succession planning,” researchers said.
That may be a slight change from the state of succession planning in pre-pandemic years. For example, a 2019 survey of chief financial officers by Robert Half Management Resources found that nearly half of respondents had not named a successor, and only 37% of CFOs at small businesses said that they had a successor.
Labor market dynamics have only complicated succession plans. A large trend of voluntary exits may have disrupted plans to develop internal talent. Meanwhile, after waves of layoffs and early retirements, a May Resume Builder survey found that 1 in 5 retirees said they were likely to head back to work in 2022, yet only 19% said they planned to go back to work with their previous employers.
As ATD’s survey identified, mentorship may be key to developing effective succession plans, according to sources who previously spoke to HR Dive. HR observers have also said such plans may require revision over time. Succession planning also can tie into diversity and inclusion goals, as employers look to identify the next generation of leaders and talent.