Succession Planning Challenges in 2022

Jayeeta Sarkar

Head- L&D, HCL Healthcare

About the Author

Jayeeta heads the Learning & Development function at HCL Healthcare and comes with over two decades of cross-industry experience. She is a certified NLP practitioner and a Certified Coach. Known for her creative training methodology, she injects a catalytic blend of positive energy and resonant experiences throughout her training. Her leadership qualities & ability to influence are perfectly suited for this critical HR domain.

Succession Planning

Challenges in 2022

A well-aligned and thought-through succession planning is critical for organizations to ensure business continuity, career progression, success, and achievement of business goals. As leaders we all believe in its urgency and importance, however, implementing the same is a challenge. Here are some challenges that are being seen in 2022.

Lack of Readiness Data: One cause for this, is qualitative data, as business succession planning, for most human resource managers is still a subjective process susceptible to human bias, both conscious and unconscious. Judging the potential of human performance and readiness for a new role is based on a manager’s perception and biases. We must have proper data or more so the desire to fish out the data.

Poor Mapping of Goals to Skills: The new role may require new sets of competencies and skills. The data is mostly collected from performance appraisals and goal sheets. During the goal setting process the new skills and competencies are not mapped or accessed. It’s imperative that organizations have well carved out competency models and mapping done on key critical business skills.

Changing Dynamics: Today’s work dynamics post-Covid has surely seen a change in work dynamics. The work environment is changing fast and so are opportunities. In many organizations, managers do not map the career progression road map with the career aspiration of the employees. So, while they may have selected X role for an employee but the employee actually wants to do or aspires for Y role. Also, with many employees preferring to work from home, managers are facing an additional challenge in identifying a willing successor.

Succession Induction: HR books talk of completely linked processes for induction to settle in. Then a structured KPI process with a fair appraisal and finally career progression. In this journey an employee goes through learning and training. However, training hours invested are not mapped with career progression in the organization. The employee ends up asking “am I generally picking up skills or is there a complete plan to the process”. A correct way should be to identify the performers, identify roles available at expected timelines. Post that, have a career aspiration discussion and structure the same with a good learning & development plan that follows the 70:20:10 principle.

The Comp & Ben Factor: Compensating the new incumbent to the role as per market standards is very important to ensure the system is effective. Consider this example, X is a great performer and we see that he/she can scale up and be a great supervisor in the team. We keep assigning X work and X delivers. All are happy. Suddenly there has been attrition and the earlier supervisor leaves. Management sees a position vacancy and promotes X to the new role. However, doesn’t make changes in the compensation and benefits of X but changes the designation. Initially, X works but gradually looks for opportunities and leaves. This proves to be the killer of succession planning. If the successors are compensated adequately, this entire cycle will be well-oiled, thereby reducing the challenges.

Managing Attritions: 2022 is the era of an apparent “post covid” world. The Great Resignation and the Big Quit are phenomena that are realities of today. The Pandemic taught employees certain indelible life lessons which contributed to making high attrition, a reality. The rising gig economy has exacerbated it. This is highly likely to continue. Despite best efforts, attrition management may not work as desired by the managers. Thus, we must be prepared for the same by ensuring more potential resources in the talent pipeline.

Ownership of Responsibility: Succession planning is mostly seen as the responsibility of the HR function. It is high time now that the onus of succession planning should not rest predominantly in the hands of the HR department. It must be a collective effort, with the business team also made equally responsible and accountable. This should be the talk in every leadership meet and every leader in the organization should have a well-filtered second line. Even while hiring, leaders and managers must not only hire for the position but they must hire for future potential as well.

Opportunity Profiling: Many times, lack of providing opportunities is an important factor in not being able to identify talent for succession. Playing the part, once key potentials are identified, they should be given opportunity. It’s a great way to test various leadership competencies like problem solving, people management, and very importantly, the Emotional Quotient of the person. One would be surprised to see that while playing the role we may find out new skills and latent talents.

Effective succession planning increases employee engagement and the overall employee value proposition with an added contribution to reducing attrition, thereby creating a tangible business impact.