By Mike Honnet, Training Consultant at 21st Century Pay Solutions

What’s the difference between career paths and succession planning? Succession planning is an element of the career management process – it is an outcome of corporate strategic planning, objectives and strategy – while a career path is a critical element or outcome of succession planning and performance appraisal.

As companies begin to develop a succession planning process, they need to consider these fundamental issues:

Identifying and retaining high-potential talent: A common mistake is to think that high performance goes hand-in-hand with high potential. Do your high potential employees want to move up in your organisation? Get managers’ ratings on their employees’ potential. At the same time, ask managers to rate their employees’ preparedness for promotion, and to identify any who are at risk of leaving and why. It is important to maintain a current data set of this information and to repeat this process annually.

Internal vs external talent: It takes time and effort to grow talent from within your organisation, however internal talent is more likely to be successful and remain loyal to your company. Yet, hiring from within is not always a possibility. If a company wants to move in a different direction, or its current leaders leave before the internal applicant is ready, they should be open to bringing in an external applicant.

Factoring diversity into your plan: Your succession plan should always include diversification. Managers must understand that coaching or mentoring employees who are like them is not the best option. It is essential to train managers to actively promote minorities for leadership positions.

Making sure you have support from leadership: You can create a succession plan, but without support from leadership, it won’t have the desired effect. HR leaders can’t force executives to support their efforts but they can match talent management efforts with strategic plans and educate managers about the value of succession planning efforts.

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