How to Handle Succession Planning Measurement

Jun 05 2023
5 min read
How to Handle Succession Planning Measurement

Succession planning measurement allows an organization to be efficient and timely with its staffing needs. Succession planning metrics are important because you don’t want to carry the burden of paying employees before you need them. But even worse is not having them when you really need them. Succession planning measurements allow you to get the balance just right. 

The Connection Between Succession Planning and Metrics

Succession planning is part of workforce planning, which is defined as “making sure that the right people are in the right roles at the right moment.” This hints at the three critical aspects of succession planning metrics:

  • The right people – identifying them through talent assessment
  • The right roles – understanding what roles will need to be filled
  • The right moment – knowing when successors will be required  

By using the correct measurement tools, you can get answers that are as accurate as possible. Of course, succession plans are often affected by unforeseen events such as medical issues, internal conflict, and sudden employee churn. But it’s up to HR to do the best job it can and minimize personnel disruptions.  

Succession Planning through Numbers

There are a large variety of ways to analyze succession planning scenarios. Here are a few of the most common tools:

People: Bench strength illustrated through a skills matrix

Bench strength describes the talent that you have “waiting to play”.  You can view current managers as the on-court team, and people on the bench as those who are waiting for their opportunity. 

According to Gartner, bench strength is critical for a demand-driven succession management program. Skills everywhere are changing at a rapid pace, and that includes requirements for leaders. Understanding the skills that you have on-hand, or which are ready to be developed, will cut significant time during a succession process. 

Talented people within an organization typically develop a reputation so that, when the time comes for them to move up, HR already has their name. But this doesn’t work for large organizations, or when it comes to employees who are quietly doing an excellent job. What you need instead is a numerical standard.

Quantifying the bench through a skills matrix can solve this challenge. Data for the matrix can be collected by interviewing managers, looking at test scores, and evaluating employee reviews. HR can place employee skills on the matrix as a way of grading them numerically (for example, on a 3 x 3 matrix, the top score would be a 9).

But how do you form the categories for evaluating bench strength? That can be accomplished by looking at the job requirements and position descriptions for employees who are, or seem to be, about to leave.    

Roles: Risk of loss analysis

If succession planning was only about replacing retirees and women on maternity leave, it would be easy. But employees quit unexpectedly all the time. Particularly when they are a manager, this creates a real challenge for HR. 

One way to get wind of a possible wave of resignations is to keep track of retention metrics. When they seem to be increasing, it’s time to drill down with a risk of loss analysis. 

The risk of loss analysis uses both voluntary information and deductive reasoning. It’s a great tool that can make up for the fact that many employees don’t announce their departure in time for you to find a replacement. Here are some of the categories that can be included:

  • Performance / engagement reports – When an employee isn’t performing up to standard, or seems to be losing interest in their work, they are at risk of quitting.
  • Personal events – Stressful occurrences in an employee’s personal life can lead to interference with their work or a decision to leave.
  • Workplace events – Being passed over for promotion, a change of role that wasn’t on the employee’s career path, and a below-average salary can be factors in moving on. 

Moment – Time to hire and time to train

Once you know who might be leaving, the skills they possess, and who could replace them, the first task is to get those “on the bench” up to speed. By planning backwards, you can set a date for replacements to be ready. It all depends on how much L&D they will need in light of the skills that you will be missing. 

If you don’t know about course length and time to acclimatize, you should think about using a top-notch talent development platform. It will give you access to training experts for those skills that promoted employees will need, and their advice about timing.   

Plus, if you must go outside your current talent pool, then you need to analyze the time it will take to advertise the open position and then recruit and evaluate candidates. Many HR people agree that using internal sourcing first is always the best way to go.   

Succeed in Succession Planning with GrowthSpace

You’ve identified the best and brightest in your organization, but now you’ve got to prepare them to take on new responsibilities. It’s likely that they’ll need to fill a range of positions, while each one of them naturally has a set of skill strengths and weaknesses.  

In this situation, only personalized L&D will do, and that means GrowthSpace. As the leading talent development platform on the market today, GrowthSpace allows HR teams to design customized training programs for employees at all levels, and in any size of organization. With succession planning, your future is on the line – so make sure that you are ready with GrowthSpace.

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