Get your succession plans ready – 2011 will be a year of change

84% of employees plan to look for a new position in 2011.

This was the finding by job-placement firm Manpower in their late December survey.  It’s a substantial increase over last year in which 60% intended to leave upon signs of economic recovery.

Unclogging the Leadership Funnel

There are never enough higher level positions to offer the ambitious and talented people at a company.  The career ladder funnel is a fact of business life.  However, the last few years have experienced record high blockage levels.  The lack of opportunity in the market has caused even the most ambitious and talented to stay tight.  Compounding that is the inability for would-be retirees to leave due to their savings going down the drain.  While the early 2000’s experienced a war for talent, the late 2000’s witnessed a clogging of talent

With signs of economic recovery – mixed, but promising job growth and a Dow back above 10,000 – and a growing sense of career ambition restlessness, 2011 is set to be a year of change for many looking to advance.  Sitting tight will no longer be an option.

Bad or Good Outcome?

As a result, there will be two counteracting factors occurring in most organizations – restless aspirers and new openings.  This could go very badly.  Blocked positions will suddenly become available and, at the same time, the seemingly strong bench will have gotten restless and left, destroying what looked like a robust back-up plan in years past.  It could also be a time of intense competition vying for the dribble of slots opening up, with no real sense of who or what is needed.  This could lead to further retention problems and negative organizational outcomes.

There is also a tremendous amount of opportunity in the coming year.  Blocked positions will finally open up.  Opportunities will become available to those that have worked hard and contributed to the success of the organization for the last few years and are ready for a new challenge.  Those that aren’t as good of a fit will have outside opportunities available to them and will seek them out without requiring ugly performance plan/firing situations.  Sub-organizational restructuring will be possible based on go-forward strategies and new leaders.  This could bring about leader empowerment and accelerated business success.

HR is the Deciding Factor

Unclogging the leadership funnel could go really badly or it could be a boon to business results. What’s the deciding factor?  HR’s relationship with the business.  Are there conversations occurring between HR leaders and business leaders that address organizational and leadership needs?  Is there a thoughtful plan and a mechanism for the business leader to implement the plan incrementally as change occurs?  Is HR also equipping the department managers that report up to the business leader to identify and implement a plan?  Has HR and the business together created a culture of internal mobility and transparency?

HR has a significant opportunity to impact the business in 2011. It’s time to make connections with business leaders and department managers and do four things:

  1. identify the leadership qualities that are needed in the coming years,
  2. conduct cross-functional talent reviews and envision go-forward leadership teams,
  3. create succession/career plans for specific leaders and/or aspiring leaders,
  4. provide ongoing coaching and support to business leaders and development managers as they react to change and implement their go-forward plan.

What are your recommendations, plans, thoughts?  We’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to Get your succession plans ready – 2011 will be a year of change

  1. Meg Bear says:

    Yup. You have just described my reality. Great suggestions on what to do. I’ll probably write up some more from a managers point of view in the next week.


  2. Amy Wilson says:

    Best of luck Meg – sending you “good outcome” vibes …