Posted by Janine • March 18, 2019 (Last modified August 8, 2022) • 9 min read
The following is a guest interview, written and contributed by Janine Nicole Truitt, Chief Innovations Officer for Talent Think Innovations, LLC
Succession Planning is an important component of the health of a business. In order to be a sustainable enterprise you not only need to have a tried and true method for attracting and hiring people who are aligned with your mission, vision, and values, but you also need to have a mechanism in place to retain and develop your workforce to meet the organization’s needs for future growth and expansion. In addition, succession planning ensures that information, protocol, and data don’t live and die in a vacuum or with a single person thwarting the dissemination of legacy practice and knowledge.
Succession Planning is about more than gathering up your favorite group of high-potentials to be groomed for future roles. There is a lack of connectivity between the time someone starts with us and what happens during the course of the employee’s lifecycle. For example, if someone starts to work for you today, at what point do you start assessing their skills or lack thereof to set a career plan in place? When do you start engaging employees about their aspirations for future roles and discussing how you see them contributing to the future needs of the organization? There needs to be a process for canvassing your employee’s career path or trajectory along with learning and developmental milestones so there is an eye for the pools of individuals who will support future needs. I have always seen Talent Management as an emerging function within HR that could exist solely to focus on how employees move throughout the organization and that orchestrates the workforce plan for present and future workforce needs.
Succession Planning can be improved with planning and being proactive. The current state of affairs in many organizations is that they focus most of their resources on hiring, and if they are somewhat progressive they may have a lens for retention. Future roles are seldom planned for, but rather discussed just-in-time. A critical role is left vacant by a retirement, untimely death or departure, and everyone internally scrambles to see if there is anyone who can fill the role only to find there are significant skill gaps. The usual excuse is the workforce is unskilled and unprepared. The real story is the organization was unprepared.
The way you get ahead of it is:
You should have an adaptable L&D program in place. That means you should be creating training that not only meets the business objectives and regulatory requirements of the organization, but it should also cater to the interests of your workforce. The way people learn and how they choose to consume information is shifting rapidly. Having a once-size-fits-all L&D strategy will not suffice moving forward. Every HR department and C-Suite should be considering the following:
This is an area is where having the right technology becomes imperative. There is no efficient way I can think of for collecting and analyzing retention and succession planning data without having a solution in place that not only collects this data, but illuminates everything from employees you should be watching, to specific milestones for when to take actions within the succession planning process.
Making succession planning data actionable is no different than any other data. The repayment of receiving insight and data from your workforce is to decide what the data is telling you. Once you are clear on the story the data is telling it is up to you to take action. If the data illuminates bottlenecks in the succession planning process, you have a duty to examine them and remove the barriers. If there is adverse impact to certain groups of people in trying to rise up the leadership ranks, you have a duty to acknowledge the impact and set a plan in motion to not only change any unfavorable practices, but to communicate that change.
Succession Planning entails the identification and development of people within your organization who are being prepared to fill critical roles in the future. Before you can begin identifying who will fill critical roles, you need to first know what the needs will be. Even if you don’t know precisely what will be needed in the future, you should be able to forecast based on some of the realities and assumptions you have at your disposal today. It is as simple as taking a comprehensive look at a subset of critical roles you have today and then asking some questions:
Succession Planning is mostly important to the C-Suite. Anytime someone leaves an organization there is a disruption to the flow and continuity of operation. That impact is compounded when the loss is a senior leader or someone who fills a critical role within the organization. More than a loss of productivity, you see impact in morale, engagement, consumer concern, and trust when an organization loses a senior or otherwise visible leader. Having a succession plan doesn’t just safeguard you against all attrition, but it ensures that you have people who are developed, trained, prepared to step into one of these roles so there is no loss of productivity or a hindrance to operation due to both anticipated and unforeseen departures.
It is the goal of every business to be not only profitable and successful in the present, but to be sustainable over the long haul. Businesses who get ahead of the inevitable losses to their leadership teams and workforces are ones who understand the important role people play in the business remaining financially-healthy. It is here that a succession plan doesn’t just become a nice-to-have tool, but an imperative solution to ensuring you are never in an operational void.
Janine N. Truitt Biography
Janine is the Owner/Chief Innovations Officer for Talent Think Innovations, LLC, a business strategy and management consulting firm. Her career spans fourteen years in HR and Talent Acquisition that has taken her through the world of pharmaceuticals, healthcare, staffing and R&D. Janine is a dynamic speaker, entrepreneur, and an important and respected voice bringing both a human touch and business savvy to the companies and businesses she works with.
It is through the trials and tribulations of her career travels and her passion for Business, Technology, Digital Transformation and Talent Management that she created Talent Think Innovations in January 2013. Her aim is to provide practical and sustainable solutions, programs and strategies that are a catalyst for innovation. Through her work she is using her experience to get businesses and individuals from surviving to thriving allowing them to succeed in an age of rapid transformation.
Janine doesn’t just preach innovation-she lives it. A globally-known figure in Human Resources and Business, she has contributed for: Performance I Create, Switch & Swift, TLNT.com, and IRIS.xyz and more. Janine is a rare professional who isn’t afraid to tackle the obstacles and issues facing us as a society and global marketplace. She has been quoted by HBR, Bustle, The Cut, Atlanta BlackStar, Newsday, SHRM, USA Today and has been featured by Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Black Enterprise and Ebony Magazines. In 2013, Mrs. Truitt was also named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by Huffington Post and one of 50+ Unstoppable Women in HR Tech by Clear Company. Additionally, she was a part of the first-ever IBM + Purematter VIP Futurist Project. Janine is currently in the process of transitioning her knowledge and work in HR into a technology company that will address the challenges the differently-abled community has in becoming gainfully employed. She proves that humility, innovation and practical thinking has value and is fast becoming the new business imperative.
Visit her blog “The Aristocracy of HR”. Follow her tweets on Twitter @CzarinaofHR. Catch her in action every Thursday at 10pm EST on her Periscope show: Ask Czarina Live and on AnchorFM for her “Growth on my Terms” podcast: anchor.fm/growthonmyterms