Say Goodbye to Career Long-Term & Succession Planning

Changing times requires changing strategies. In a World stretched between extreme volatilities and boundary-less innovation, Businesses are bound to keep moving. Agility and Resilience are the name of the game, and failing to see this imperative could not be less than sentencing your business to death.

Further, what’s interesting about change is that it is a holistic-radiating concept. When it happens it alters everything in its way and influences all what’s in its perimeter. Effect happens either directly through linear impact, or indirectly through radiations. This is the reason why every Business should also be concerned.

This alarm should be resonating in the mind and heart of every business person and boiling down into the vision and plan of every manager in every function.

Among others, businesses should pay special attention to its effort, time, and money spent on Human Capital Strategies. People dynamics in organizations need not be ignored at any time. Having correct and timely people strategies can save companies a lot in terms of costs and infertile human capital initiatives. Two of those initiatives that need to be closely examined for running the risk of obsoleteness are Long-term Career and Succession Planning.

Basically, the idea is as follows. Career and succession planning are two concepts that are directly related to talent. They both rest on three main assumptions. First is that People join companies to build a long term career; second, all companies need to ensure business continuity by securing successors for executive and critical positions; and third is that companies are in charge of sparing the necessary funds to develop high potential talent fit for ensuring business continuity and the sustainability of performance.

With this in mind let us look at some facts about the Talent World. Statics show that today 1 in 4 employees has been with their current employer for less than a year, and 1 in 2 workers has been with their employer for less than five years. Further, reports of the U.S. Department of Labor estimate that today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38 that is 1 job every 14 months. Now, given that Career and Succession Planning are also highly sensitive to time, what can we conclude from those numbers?

This tells us that talent is no more here to stay. The three assumptions of Career and Succession planning are losing their significance by the day. High potential employees are masters of their own careers. They look at their employer not as the ‘Planner’ of their careers rather as the ‘Supporter’ of their professional agenda. By the same token, since talent is no more here to stay, Succession Plans will also suffer. Who would you count on to stay if the average lifecycle of employees is no more than 14 months? Why bother spend time and money on grooming someone who will not be around tomorrow? Briefly, who would be the successor, in a context where Succession – the long-term game – is standing face to face with Talent who is a big fan of short-term employment?

What makes this issue even more complex is the ‘Globalization of Talent’. Talent that was previously moving one way out of talent hubs is now flowing in, out, right and left thanks to social and professional media platforms like LinkedIn that is facilitating the accessibility of talent-thirsty economies to talent. It is now more probable to see a Lebanese company headhunting a Swedish Engineer living in Stockholm in as much as seeing a Swedish company hiring a Lebanese Architect living in Beirut.

If this is alarming enough, then businesses should refrain from pursuing the implementation of traditional Career and Succession Planning schemes, and aim instead at adopting more innovative strategies that fit this changing dynamic of human capital. As such, Businesses are highly advised to:

1. Shift to short-term career and succession planning, focusing on the contractual conditions that allow for this to happen.
2. Consider going into limited-period contracting of people and focusing on getting the best of them within this period.
3. Open up to Outsourcing options, whether outsourcing to specialized firms or freelancers.
4. Divert direct investments in long-term career and succession planning into more short term activities that sustain Attraction and Retention strategies.
5. Work on understanding the needs of the generations constituting their workforce and respond promptly. This will elongate Talent lifecycle at the company.
6. Accept that some strategies like long-term Talent Management Schemes might need to be left behind, or at least adapted to fit the changing mindset of the workforce.
7. Grant successors visibility on the period needed to assign them to the upper job before counting them as potential successors.
8. Be candid with high potentials. Make sure they share their Career agenda with you transparently and aim at supporting it rather than planning their career for them.

Business continuity and Performance sustainability have never been so challenging, and as mentioned above, Businesses who are keen to survive need to be savvy and sharp, and keep moving. Movement – a trait of change – seems to be the name of the game for people management in the period to come. Businesses that want to stay around need to embrace a resilient approach to their human capital strategies, and quiet more often.