Succession Planning Gains Momentum

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As described by Cushing Anderson in this article research, according to latest survey of the Chief Learning Officer magazine Business Intelligence Board (BIB), over 60% of participating organizations feel the importance of talent management strategies has increased since 2008. This article reports on current talent management and succession planning strategies.

1.0?Article Analysis

There are three fundamental perspectives of business; 1) sustainable growth, 2) complacent existence, and 3) descending obsolesce. Firms that choose the first perspective recognize that talent management and succession planning are important objectives to consider for the continuation of sustainable growth. The article illustrates or further develops ideas set forth in this course, Human Resources Administration, by exemplifying the importance of strategic alignment between operations management and human resource management.


Figure 14.1 Vertical and Horizontal Alignment

(Stewart, Brown, 2008, p 527)

Figure 14.1 above was extracted from the course text Chapter 14 Aligning Strategy with Practice. The illustration depicts the two basic forms of alignment as part of strategic management. Vertically the human resource strategy is relational to other organizational strategies. Often strategy is handed down vertically through the organization to the level of a program and/or project. Human resources are a critical link between alignment of operational strategy and the program?s tactical implementation of that strategy. The key issue is whether the organization?s human resource strategy fits with its competitive strategy. The human resource strategy is most effective when it fits or aligns with the competitive strategy. For instance, an organization?s strategy to become more competitive in an attempt to expand revenues and shareholder value can centralize human resources for better vertical alignment.

A bottom up consistent approach to human resource practices is foundational to supporting the organization?s strategies. Horizontal alignment refers to the fit among the specific human resource practices. This form of alignment is most effective with consistency of practices, i.e. consistent practices leads to effective human resource management and therefore an effective organization. Program/project managers generally rely on human resources to recruit and manage talent. Talent management and succession planning are performed as a part of the human resource practices (Stewart, Brown, 2008, pp 527-528).

2.0 ?Article Evaluation

The legitimacy of the point of view or the content of the article is both current and relevant information. The illustrations clearly represent the content. However, the Chief Learning Officer magazine is bias on global enterprise education. A quick look at the home page, , one could deduce that the article promotes the perspective of the magazine. The magazine is subsidized by advertising of learning engagements, software applications, associations, and service organizations. Furthermore, it also appears that the author is a hired writer as there are several other articles by this author displayed on the website.

The article makes three important points about the understanding of strategic human resources. The first is about the continuing war for talent. Second is about talent strategies in challenging times. Finally, the third is about talent management processes.

2.1 ?Continuing War for Talent

A majority of firms recognize talent management as important to achieving organizational success. Figure 1 shows a steady decline in the unemployment numbers, but a recent sharp increase during 2008. This could imply that it is difficult to fill roles therefore further implying that the skills are hard to find. Figure 2 depicts large voids in the levels most affected by knowledge gap. The largest of gaps is the middle manager. This is a huge opportunity for MBA students and/or project management students motivated to enter this level. Even though firms have an opportunity to select from the best in the unemployment line, the knowledge gap can hinder immediate organizational success. That gap can be filled with industry training, mentoring, and exposure of the job. A best approach will depend on which of the three fundamental perspectives of business presented previously a firm decides to implement. This gap requires an investment, so firms must develop a talent strategy (Anderson, 2009, pp 54-55).


2.2 ?Talent Strategies in Challenging Times

Some strategies for improving organizational performance involve technology improvements, streamlining talent and development, and formalizing succession and mentoring programs. Figure 3 illustrates the impact of these strategies to improve performance caused by the reduction of workforce and skills gap. Notice that investment in IT to automate processes and training and development are the most used strategies and the most impactful to improving organizational performance. Also, notice that Figure 4 depicts the importance of the development talent function along with aligning goals to optimize human capital contribution to organizational success (Anderson, 2009, pp 54-55).



2.3 ?Talent Management Processes

A majority of firms have formal processes in place to management talent. Figure 5 is a display of talent management processes by process characterization. Notice that many of these processes are similar to the practices displayed in Figure 14.1 illustrated previously. Many of the processes are transcending beyond the manual stage as human resources strategies are horizontally aligned. Automation is prevalent in the compensation management and performance process, but succession planning still remains as a manual process. In order to fill the gaps displayed in Figure 2, firms may need to invest in automating the succession planning process (Anderson, 2009, pp 55-56). 62


Change brings opportunity and during times of crisis changes is in abundance. The times are tough and situations seem bleak, but the one that perseveres is the one to seek out these opportunities brought on by change. Find a gap, discover a niche, develop personal skills, hold the bar high and never stop learning. As the war for talent continues and firms automate processes, the opportunist makes all the difference in managing one?s own talent. Have you discovered your talent?


    ANDERSON, C. (2009, March). Succession Planning Gains Momentum. Chief Learning Officer, 8(3), 54-56. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from EBSCO MegaFILE database.
    Stewart, Greg L. and Brown, Kenneth G., 2008. Human Resource Management: Linking Strategyto Practice. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Incorporated.