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Succession management - Roles, stakeholders and engagement

Depending on the purposes, size and scope of your intended scheme, you will need to work with different stakeholders, and the balance of responsibilities between different stakeholders will vary depending in part on the position of your scheme on our continuum.

As succession guru Wendy Hirsh puts it, “The CEO has a critical role in giving priority to succession and in insisting on high quality, objective debate and follow-through. The HR function has an equally critical role in supporting the line. This is done in a number of ways, including process design and facilitation; challenging judgments and plans; brokering crucial cross-boundary career moves; advice to those doing the planning; career counselling for individuals; and information support.”

A genuine partnership

Our experience suggests that succession and talent schemes work best if they involve a genuine partnership between HR and senior managers. Without HR, succession can be a closed, subjective process, creating suspicion among staff and staff representatives. Without senior people responsible for that part of the organisation on which the scheme focuses, it can fail to engage line managers and look like an ‘HR-only’ process. This partnership is relatively easy to achieve when a scheme is being set up; once it is in place, the job of keeping everyone engaged is harder and schemes can easily drift into being HR-only.