The HR Planning Process: Succession and Workforce Planning

PlanningHow do Workforce Planning and Succession Planning Relate to Talent Management?

In our previous post, A Comprehensive Definition to Talent Management, we proposed that a more effective notion of TM is:
“Talent Management is the business process that continuously meets our needs regarding timely access and use of talent in highly effective business driven ways.”
At the simplest level, we can think of meeting our talent needs through internal and/or external talent sources: staffing or contracting in one form or other.
Workforce and Succession Planning efforts are internal TM activities. That focus on the “inventory management” aspects of TM. They both deal with ensuring orderly replacement of talent as these needs arise.

Succession Planning Defined

Succession Planning focuses on meeting contingency staffing needs when a critical role become vacant or the incumbent becomes incapacitated in some significant way. Succession Planning works well when:

  • The role is relatively stable over time in terms of its existence and its purpose;
  • There is a single (small number) incumbent(s) in the role;
  • and, there is value in being able draw from a select pool of standby talent to meet contingent needs.

When such a position becomes vacant on more a permanent basis (e.g., retirement, promotion, resignation) the top (at the moment) “pool” candidate can be tapped to fill the role on an interim basis.Often this person will be considered a “front runner” in the permanent filling of the position; however, it is very common and often sensible to utilize a formal recruitment process to ensure we are hiring the most appropriate candidate, considering both internal and external resources.

The benefit of Succession Planning is that it provides the organization time to consider and act on its best long term interests regarding the role in question. For example:

“Do we know if our top internal candidate is the best candidate?”

  • The only way to answer a question like this is to compare our internal related talent pool to possible external talent.
  • “Should we reshape the role so that it will better meet future needs?”
  • Using the succession pool as a bridging strategy, we have the time to properly assess our future needs. Again, we may have to look at a broader pool of candidates as our internal succession pool may not possess all the capabilities we desire.

Succession Planning is a wonderful strategy for allowing the organization to meet these kinds of TM key role replacement needs.

Workforce Planning Defined

Workforce Planning works well for multi-incumbered roles where assumptions regarding attrition and productivity become significant.

Workforce Planning utilizes statistical type modeling tools to help plan for future talent needs. The modeling considers the talent role group from the perspective of various in and out flows over time (typically 5 – 10 years). The modeling allows us to see what likely effective scheduling of replacement; growth or reduction would look like. Workforce Planning can also model in the applicable use of external talent sources such as contractor and contingent resources.
One of the biggest concerns Tekara has about typical Workforce Planning approaches is they do not model in planning assumption uncertainties and risk very well. Effective TM incorporates explicit diligence around uncertainty and risk, Tekara’s approach enables the incorporation of contingencies to meet the likely fact that the future will be full of surprises.
Tekara’s approach to TM (including Workforce Planning) also incorporates performance/productivity considerations.

Major Benefits to clients in using Tekara’s approach to Succession and Workforce Planning forms of TM include:

  • Recognize that the most effective TM solution that supports business goals achievement may require options other than employment
  • Better assess your ongoing dynamic talent needs by focusing on productivity.
  • Better understand the potential impact of business risks and use dynamic thinking and modeling to prepare for contingencies.
Mark Adams