April 2009 —

Groundbreaking study co-authored by Center for Creative Leadership and Bersin & Associates highlights the importance of talent pipelines in a tough economy.

Greensboro, N.C. – Surviving the economic downturn and thriving in a post-recession world will require strong and well-developed pools of talent. But most companies are still using succession management plans that are decades old, too rigid and too focused on top jobs, says a new report co-authored by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a top-ranked, global provider of executive education, and Bersin & Associates, a research and advisory firm focused on enterprise learning and talent management.

High-Impact Succession Management: Best Practices, Models and Case Studies in Organizational Talent Mobility is the first study to take a comprehensive view of succession management and explore how companies are approaching it at all levels of the organization.

Among the study’s findings:

  • More than half of survey respondents said their companies implement succession management processes at only the most senior executive levels.
  • Only 12 percent of respondents said their companies’ succession management programs are integrated with talent management programs, such as performance management and employee development.
  • Fewer than 40 percent of respondents said their companies include mid-level managers and skilled professionals in succession planning initiatives; just 11 percent included first-line supervisors.

“Now is the time for companies to take a very close look at their talent and review the effectiveness and impact of their human capital systems,” said CCL senior faculty member Roland Smith, co-author of the report. “Stakeholders are starting to ask companies hard questions about their succession practices — and whether leaders are prepared to get through the current crisis and capitalize on future opportunities. Do they have the right skills, knowledge and experiences? Can they motivate employees? Many companies don’t know the answers to these questions.”

The study includes surveys and interviews with 220 senior human resource leaders responsible for succession planning and management, 25 senior business executives and succession management leaders and 100 additional business leaders who evaluated the effectiveness of their companies’ succession management strategies.

The resulting 200-page study provides detailed resources for business and human resource executives involved in all aspects of succession planning and management. It includes a five-stage maturity model for succession management, ten best practices for maximizing business impact; steps to quickly improve succession processes and a series of case studies.

“It’s clear from this research that succession management must address both technical and human elements to achieve impact” said CCL research associate Michael Campbell, co-author of the report. “Leader at all levels can and should have an impact on succession management in their organizations. In fact, CCL research shows that organizations with the most effective succession management processes also have strong executive leadership support and HR partners who are closely aligned with the business.”

“Depth of talent is extremely important for competitive advantage,” said Bersin & Associates’ principal analyst Kim Lamoureux, also a co-author of the study. “For instance, advanced engineering and technical sales support positions require years of experience. When companies make staff reduction decisions based on executive position and/or salary, highly paid and long-tenured personnel are often the first to go – even though they have invaluable product and industry knowledge.”

View the executive summary for High-Impact Succession Management.

CCL and Bersin & Associates will host a special Webinar on the study findings April 9 at 2 p.m. EDT. The session will cover the critical elements of a high-impact succession management program and best practices employed by leading companies. Information is available here.

About the Center for Creative Leadership

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) is a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development. By leveraging the power of leadership to drive results that matter most to clients, CCL transforms individual leaders, teams, organizations, and society. Our array of cutting-edge solutions is steeped in extensive research and experience gained from working with hundreds of thousands of leaders at all levels. Ranked among the world’s top providers of executive education, CCL has locations in countries worldwide.

Stephen Martin
Center for Creative Leadership
+1 336 286 4038

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