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So Many Reasons to Engage in Succession Planning

Yes we have gone through a deep recession. People have put off their retirement plans; in some cases this is the second time retirement plans have been postponed. (How can we forget the economy of 2001/2002?) That said, demographic shifts will, in the very near future, create intense competition for talent. Combine that with the fact that the Conference Board Leading Economic Index ™ (LEI) has increased every month since May 2009 and you have the very early beginnings of economic improvement.

SHRM Future of the U.S. Labor Pool Survey Report

There have been multiple warnings about our aging labor force in many different reports. This particular report puts it very clearly:
  • 82 million Baby Boomers are retiring; only 45 million Gen-Xers are available to replace them.

What are the obstacles?

  • Lack of support from the top
  • Resistance to change
  • 'Annual' performance management programs
  • Resistance by leaders to 'let go' of their best staff

It's all about business

While there are certainly short-term issues that need to be considered when developing succession planning programs, the best and most successful programs start with business objectives. Most organizations have some sort of annual strategic planning session or process. This is the time to incorporate succession planning practices.
  • What are the company's short and long range goals?
  • What are the strategies and related tactics for reaching those goals?
  • What are the key roles (existing today and needed for tomorrow) necessary for achieving our goals?
  • How can we assure we have the team in place to get us to where we want to go?


People often think of 'programs' like Succession Planning as an all-or-nothing event. The key is to start a process that can and should incorporate all of your ongoing/daily workforce management programs. Performance management, leadership development, training, retention/engagement activities and talent acquisition all need to come together. You are likely doing many of the necessary activities . . . . . bringing them together with a common purpose will be key (and the topic for future Blog entries).