Pressure is on the HR function continually to re-evaluate their strategies for maintaining a strong leadership bench – both for now and for an unpredictable future.
The best organisations are managing leadership talent more like they manage financial investments. They are moving from a pipeline to a portfolio management approach; applying the same rigour, objective analysis and external benchmarking to talent management that is used in financial management.
Leaders are being asked to take on new and different roles, meaning that chief HR officers need to identify and plan for evolving leadership needs. They also need to prepare successors for cross-silo leadership in an environment where teams are moving from individual contribution to a strong reliance on others across the organisation to deliver results.
To successfully adapt to this new reality, there are five actions that HR leaders can take now:
1 Develop a long-term succession strategy aligned with long-term business strategy
31% of leaders are in newly-created positions – meaning that succession management may be focusing on leader strengths that are no longer relevant and neglecting others that are rising in importance.
2 Target investment on the basis of true leader potential
More than half of high-potentials are likely to fall out of their top talent program.
3 Use talent analytics data from across the organization to select successors
Analyse high-potential and leader talent assessment data to identify strengths, gaps and themes at both individual and organisational levels.
4 Prepare leaders for a variety of futures to hedge against uncertainty
Traditional leader development programs focus on targeted application – the ability to apply competencies to specific, known work situations. However, the new work environment requires adaptive application – the ability and mind-set to apply one’s competencies to new, different and unexpected work situations.
5 Continually rebalance the senior leadership team against strategic goals
Nearly one third of HR leaders would change members of their senior leadership team if given the opportunity, suggesting that succession strategies cannot end after placement.