HCP Conversations Knowledge Series: Who’s Next? Passing the Baton of Success! (Part 2)

HCPartners share their views on how to get started on succession management.

17 May 2022 Articles Performance management Best practices Human capital partnership

In the last of the Human Capital Partnership Programme (HCP) Conversations Knowledge Series – Who’s Next? Passing the Baton of Success! – the panel, joined by representatives from TAFEP and HCPartners, shared their views on how to get started on succession management, and ways to overcome the challenge of managing employee expectations to make it work.

This article is the second instalment in this two-part article series.

Panel Discussion: Developing Future Leaders Today

The panel discussion covered 3 key themes:


HR’s Role in Getting Buy-in from Management

For businesses looking to get started on succession management, the role of HR is critical in getting the necessary buy-in from business leaders. This will require

  • Commercial astuteness and having an in-depth understanding of the business needs and status.
  • Strong awareness of the organisation’s emerging needs and competencies required to close any skills gaps to groom and develop the next level of successors.
  • Courage to hold potentially difficult conversations with business leaders, having to step up and bring a voice to the room.

This brings up HR’s level of influencing power to facilitate the process so that leaders view HR as strategic partners, resulting in greater support. For example, setting up a sounding board or steering committee that comprises individuals from the business function, to ensure alignment in the direction to grow the organisation. This way, strategies from HR and the business move in tandem towards the same goal.


Overcoming a Key Challenge of Managing Employee Expectations 

A key challenge faced by employers when putting a succession management plan in place is balancing transparency and retention – how can businesses manage employee expectations while still motivating them, since at the end of the day, only the best candidate will move up the ranks? Our panelists shared their thoughts on this:

Understand that it is not a one-size fits all approach

  • Your succession management programme should be planned to fit the different needs of employees at different points of readiness. For example, segmenting your workforce in terms of how ready they are to succeed a role, i.e. currently ready or emerging talents. Understand their needs, aspirations and developmental gaps through open conversations to offer them a career experience and purpose that supports them in their goals.

Individuals’ potential to succeed can change with time 

  • Potential is often based on a projection of business needs of the future and one’s current performance. In fact, when dealing with such unknowns, it becomes crucial that you prepare the individual to be flexible to adjust with business needs by investing in their development, with the knowledge that things can change.

Focus on Progressing the Organisation

  • It’s not the planned outcomes from the succession plan that matter as much as progressing the business and your people all together by ensuring that their learning and development is taken care of. This involves providing opportunities in their career that they can continue to look forward to. 


Managing Diversity in Succession Management

Progressive organisations understand that diverse leadership offers critical advantages to the business, and is built on intentional and strategic planning. What are ways to manage diversity in succession management?

  • Do not limit your internal talent pool: Keep an open mind when identifying potential successors and focus on the skills required more than anything else. For example, if your organisation only considers individuals in a certain age group as potential successors, consider rethinking this with Singaporeans today having a much longer career runway.
  • Develop a workplace culture that supports diversity: This includes implementing structures and programmes that promote diversity in leadership roles, e.g. a women’s network to increase the organisation’s ability to track and recruit top women candidates at all levels and then retain and advance them. 
  • Providing fair opportunities: Employers are expected to provide employees with fair opportunity to be considered for training and development; as well as remuneration fairly based on performance and contribution. For example, are supervisors aware of their biases – selecting candidates in an unfair manner? Is your company’s performance management process fair and consistent?  If your organisation’s policies are rooted in fairness, the ultimate selection of employees to fill new roles or progress to higher roles will reflect that focus.

Succession management enables your organisation to meet the demand for agile, innovative leaders, develop and retain key talents, as well as build a healthy internal pipeline. Done well, it can enable your business to build its next generation of leaders, while best preparing your organisation for the future.

Read part 1 of the article series.