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Friday, May 27, 2011

HR Execs Give Mixed Grades to Leadership Pipelines

Organizations appear to be all over the map with it comes to implementing coherent leadership programs. Right Management research found that human resources and talent management executives give mixed grades for the quality of their own organizations’ leadership pipelines.

We recently surveyed over 1,200 executives and found that there are gaps in the leadership cadres at most companies in North America. In fact, only 6% of organizations were reported to have future leaders identified for all critical roles. A majority of organizations seem to have ‘some’ critical roles covered, but that’s barely reassuring. What’s really striking is that fewer than one in five has no one slated to take over any key positions. And we’re not talking about small companies.

As executives rated their leadership pipelines, they were also asked if there had been any recent change in their organizations’ approach to succession planning. A majority (57%) said succession planning had become a higher priority in the past year, while 17% said it was made a lower priority. For the rest there was no change in priority. Combining these results suggests that the need for succession planning is becoming more evident, but actual succession management strategies and implementation plans are lagging behind.

There’s a growing recognition that management succession is no luxury. Board members, executives and business leaders are now openly acknowledging that talent management plans –which include succession management – are absolutely essential for sustained performance in today’s organizations, as talent is now seen as one of the only competitive differentiators left.

The world is chaotic and unforeseen events can change a company’s situation overnight, so having a depth of leadership talent as well as a genuine plan for all eventualities are more important than ever. In fact, weak bench strength throughout the company can erode employee engagement and reduce overall performance.

Managing succession insures business continuity as well as retention of high-value talent. Corporate health depends on the effectiveness, depth and breadth of succession management planning.

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