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Why Your Top Talent Keeps Knocking At My Door...Weak Succession Planning

As an employer if you are not doing all you can to keep your staff happy, always thinking two steps ahead, you risk losing top talent to your competitors.

A good retention plan requires strategic thought and preparation so you recruit qualified applicants, retain talented employees, as well as tap into talent you already have internally.

As a Recruitment Professional, I can find the top talent that you need for your industry, but as the employer you need to do your part to retain that talent whereby curbing your staff turnover and encouraging other potential employees to join your company.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing a 3-part Retention Strategy Blog series...

Here's part 1.  Happy reading!

Why Your Top Talent Keeps Knocking At My Door - Weak Succession Planning

Today’s modern global environment is highly competitive. Organisations now view human capital as the most important asset.

And yet most companies focus on hiring and training with very little priority on succession planning.

Succession planning is by far the most important aspect in developing a business that can comfortably meet its strategic goals on an ongoing basis.

A succession planning poll conducted by SHRM in 2011 discovered that less than a quarter of organisations have a formal succession plan. This number was below 15% for companies that had less than 500 employees.

Although most organisations would rather focus on more immediate needs, they end up neglecting succession planning at their peril.

So let’s talk Succession Planning...

What is Succession Planning?

It’s a process where a company ensures that enough employees are hired and equipped to fill every crucial position within the company. It allows for continual leadership, preventing chaos if an executive should suddenly leave.

It also ensures that an organisation will never have any key role open for which another employee may not be fully prepared.

It involves recruiting superior employees, developing their skills and abilities preparing them for promotion into challenging roles, thus ensuring there is always someone available to look after the business should someone inevitably leave.

So what’s the difference between Succession and Replacement Planning?

Replacement planning is when a company/organisation names a next-in-line for a major position should something happen to the one already in that position. This is used as a contingency plan and the process only requires the named one to meet the set qualifications.

On the other hand, succession planning is a long-term plan that focuses on change as part of growth. In this setup, the employees are mentored and developed and not just placed on a waiting list as part of a plan B.

Who is involved in Succession Planning?

Succession planning involves senior leaders of the company as well as human resources leaders. For the top positions like CEOs, board members may be involved. These people are tasked with identifying potential positions that may be at risk and then planning to identify successors and fill the existing gaps.

What Are The Benefits of Succession Planning?

• Identify Future Leaders

Succession planning is essential as it helps identify employees with a potential to move up in an organization once they’ve gained the necessary skills. Moreover, the process can help identify weak areas that may be improved through training.

• Save Time and Money

With prior planning, you won’t have to spend money on external training or recruitment. Promoting from within makes it easy to save both time and money.

• Goes Beyond Training

Although most people think succession planning is all about training, you’ll be surprised to learn that training is only a part of the process. Succession planning provides an initial assessment of potential vulnerabilities that can affect performance management. Knowing the potential vulnerabilities will help your organizations take the necessary steps to identify and train internal employees.

Why most Succession Plans are weak

Most organisations are not prepared if their top employees left to join their competitor. Other businesses would collapse if their CEO became ill and couldn’t resume his duties.

If you’re wondering why your top talent keeps leaving, here are some warning signs of a weak succession process:

• Failure to have a succession plan and process

• Focusing on today’s position instead of how different they will be in a few years to come

• Lack of actionable development plans or goals

• Leaders are not accountable for identify potentials or developing them

• Making the judgement based on one person, and not multiple sources

• Having an inflexible plan that doesn’t meet the needs of the personnel involved

• Selecting unqualified people for inclusion in the succession plan

• Waiting for too long for a real promotion, resulting in people leaving

• Hiring the wrong person

In business, most senior management teams and CEOs fail to develop in their successors the competencies and skills they’ll require. Leaders are often focused on short-term results, are resistant to change or simply absorbed in daily issues. In some cases, office politics may prompt a CEO to get rid of high-ranking people or the second in command.

The other problem that may arise is that the board members may fail to get a suitable successor prompting them to look for talent outside. This means more time to train and equip the person for the key role.


The good news is that it’s never too late to get top talent from one of your employees in succession planning. As an organisation, you need to devote time and resources to identify potential successors that you hire and train to achieve a distinct competitive edge.

At the end of the day, succession planning isn’t foolproof and you may appoint the wrong person despite the succession planning.

Stay tuned to the next part of the 3-part Retention Strategy series, coming soon...

Call me to help you hire the right person to avoid problems later in future…

Tony Henderson

+61 3 8606 0300



Tony Henderson has over 21 years’ experience specialising in the recruitment of sales and marketing personnel across a vast array of industries that includes the Industrial, FMCG, Freight, Food and Manufacturing industries to name a few.

As a respected and knowledgeable industry specialist, Tony strives to offer both his clients and candidates the best possible service and recruitment advice.

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