Published August 18th, 2017 by

Talent Management and Succession Planning in just 4 steps!

What is Talent Management and how does it relate to Succession Planning?  In just 4 simple steps, you will build a stronger team and reduce risk exposure.

Talent Management

Adopting a structured approach to identifying and managing key talent at various levels (“talent management”) within your business will enable you to build a stronger team and reduce risk exposure.   It will help you to identify key people within your business who have the potential to progress their careers and will give you a greater understanding of the skills that exist within your business.  You will then be able to plan for and mitigate the risk of turnover in critical roles (through succession planning) while ensuring that you have the right talent to grow long-term sustainable business performance.


Effective talent management involves 4 simple steps:

  • Identifying talent
  • Gap analysis
  • Developing talent
  • Succession planning


  1. Identifying Talent

Talent management is good risk management as it ensures that you have a solid understanding of your potential areas of ‘people and role’ related risk.  The first step in talent management is to review your team and identify business critical roles (your talent pool).


Questions for the management team to consider at this stage:

  • Which are the “key” positions that expose us to the most risk if they are not performed/covered?
  • Who are the key people who are critical to the success of the business and must be nurtured and retained?
  • Who are the critical people within the business who possess a rare skill set and/or Company knowledge and/or a unique combination of technical and behavioural skills that would be difficult to replace?
  • Who are the star performers and rising stars who are most likely to progress in the business over time?
  • What skills, knowledge and abilities are required for each of these key positions?


  1. Gap Analysis

Once you have identified your talent pool you can then devise a forecast of the critical business functions and core capabilities that are required to support your business strategy.   What are the skills, knowledge and ability gaps in the current team?  From this, you can determine the actual requirements for your future team, thus ensuring that when recruiting and/or promoting, that the right people are in each of the specific roles.


Questions for the management team to consider at this stage:

  • What are the critical knowledge / skills that we need to deliver our current business strategy? Do we have this in place?
  • What are the critical knowledge / skills that we need for in three years, five years, etc?
  • Where and what are the gaps?


  1. Developing Talent

While talent management is a pro-active approach, it does rely on some re-active measures and information from your performance appraisal process to identify development needs.  An effective performance appraisal process coupled with your gap analysis enables you to assess current capability and the investment that will be required to develop team members.


Training is often seen as the silver bullet in terms of developing talent however, learning transfer can be a challenge if there is inadequate opportunity to use the skills and knowledge from the training course.  There are a multitude of other methods available within the work place to develop talent including:

  • Involvement in projects
  • Involvement with cross functional teams
  • Job shadowing
  • Opportunities to move across teams/business units on secondment or longer term
  • Assigning a mentor or coach from the senior management team
  • Agreeing stretch targets


Questions for the management team to consider at this stage:

  • How are we recognising and rewarding our key people, star performers and rising stars?
  • Do these people know what they need to be doing to be considered for their next career move?
  • What training or development opportunities do we need to put in place for this group?
  • Do we develop Career Development Plans within the Annual Appraisal process for all of our people?


Working through this exercise and putting in place Career Development Plans will establish a pre-qualified pool of high potential, experienced, competent and high performing people who are ready to step up when the next challenge and opportunity arises.


  1. Succession Planning

The loss of a key person can impact your ability to deliver on your business objectives which is why it is important to have a succession plan in place for each of your key roles (senior leadership / supervisory / critical roles) and even for your own role as business owner / leader.   A succession plan will ensure that your business continues to run smoothly after the departure of a key person, whether that departure is from resignation, retirement, sickness, etc.


Succession planning requires the evaluation of a key person’s skills and the identification of potential replacements, both within and outside of the Company.   Succession plans identify who is available for all contingencies, including short term/emergency cover, medium term cover and long term.


Succession planning isn’t a one-time event; a succession plan should be re-evaluated each year or as changes in the business dictate.  The attached template will formalise your succession plan and provide an opportunity to mentor and develop potential internal replacements to be ready to take over when any key role opens up.


Questions for the management team to consider at this stage:

  • Who is potentially existing the business in the short / longer term (i.e. potentially now and up to 3 years from now?
  • Which are the key roles you need to have a succession plan in place?
  • Do you have up to date Position Descriptions in place for all key roles?   What are the key skills required for all key roles?
  • Who could potentially be a successor for the key role?
  • What are the gaps in skills / competencies of potential successors?
  • What development / training do you need to put in place to develop potential successors?


Need a hand with talent management and succession planning?  From templates, to coaching and advice, our HR Partners are here to help.

Check out our Team Page, or Contact Us here.

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