The Next Big Thing In HR

Tim Sackett Audacious Ideas, Candidate Pool, Career Paths, Change, Coaching, Giving Notice, Good HR, Hiring Managers, HR, Influence, Leadership, Organizational Development, Performance, Retention, SHRM, Succession Planning, Tim Sackett, Trench HR, War for Talent

The next big thing in HR is also the #1 thing HR sucks in.  Whether you’re feeling it or not in your organization, hiring is coming back.  That means slowly but surely the economy is getting better.  That means slowly but surely you’re going to have people retiring.  All those Baby Boomers that held on an extra 2, 3, 4 years extra – are now seriously thinking about making that pilgrimage to Florida and Arizona.  The next big thing in HR is Succession Planning!

That’s a problem!  It’s a problem because HR shops, for the most part, are terrible at Succession Planning.  Why are we so bad at it?  There are a number of reasons including:

  1. It costs money – and we are really bad at ‘winning’ budget money to do anything – especially after 5 years of recessionary cuts to our budget already.
  2. It takes major influence – and we are still having conversations about being ‘strategic’, instead of just being strategic.
  3. It takes cross functional coordination – and we have a hard time coordinating open enrollment, which is basically the exact same process every year.

Don’t get me wrong – succession planning is a bear!  It takes every single leader, especially your senior leaders, to be on board and willing to look at their people resources much differently than they normally do.  Average succession planning takes willingness from your leaders to share talent across functions – that is really hard to get!  It takes leaders that can have some self-insight and know where their strengths and weaknesses are on their team, and admit them publicly.  It takes leaders who care more about what happens to the organization 3-5 years from now, versus what is happening today.  Succession planning is hard.  It takes great HR Pros to push it forward!

Technology can help build you a nicer looking plan – but HR and your Leadership teams still have to do the heavy lifting to make it work.  Unlike a lot of what we do in HR, there isn’t a short cut for succession planning.  The consequence for bad, or nonexistent, succession planning is a nightmare recruiting battle in the future (the #2 thing most corporate HR shops suck at).  Pick your poison – a current nightmare or a future nightmare.

Here’s what you can do right now to help your organization get out in front of your succession planning crisis:

Don’t let Succession Planning get put on a back burner.  Make it the #1 project you have in your HR shop, get it on the agenda, lead the meetings, and keep it top of mind.  It’s a win-win for HR.  Time spend on succession planning now helps you in the future, and having a long term talent mindset for your organization is about as strategic as you can get in HR.  Want to be strategic – walk this walk.

Don’t allow your HR budget not to have a Succession component.  There are some things you need to fight for on your HR budget – this is one of those things you need to stick a flag in the sand and not move.

–  Start having staff calibration meetings with your leaders.  Start top-down, just for the simple fact it will be easier to work through your leaders before moving down to the individual contributors.  This will help to open the minds of your leaders at what they are facing in the future.  When they see their own holes on the leadership team they are facing, it will be 10 times worse at the staff level.

Leaders don’t want to do this.  Facing problems they’ll have in 3 years isn’t something anyone really wants to do – this is why we/HR force them to do it.  Having a long range talent mindset is what sets your organization up for success.  It forces your leaders to lead at a higher level as well.  Don’t wait for your functional leaders to set up these meetings, they never will, this one is on your back.  This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.  The spotlight.  Have fun – it will be the most challenging HR assignment you’ll ever have, and the most exciting!