I recently watched the The King on Netflix, a very well written (mostly borrowed from Shakespeare) movie which begins with the topic of Succession as a young King Henry V rises to the throne. As my work day progressed the next morning, this got me thinking more about the topic of Succession (although a much less intense version of it). I like to think of Succession Planning as the crowning achievement of a well-functioning Talent Management system. In my mind, the ultimate goal of a Talent Management system is to help people grow. This is really the core function of every component or module of Talent Management systems. Talent Acquisition systems empower people to find a new opportunity within the company and get their foot in the door. Goal Setting and Development plans give people a place to set the tangible targets they seek to obtain. Performance management systems help coach people on obtaining those goals. Learning systems give them the knowledge they need to get there. And finally, a good Succession Planning system helps people at the top use all of the information gathered during all of these activities to see who is ready to move on up!
A typical SAP SuccessFactors Succession Management module implementation covers the below processes:
- A Talent Review process including 9-box placement
- Talent Search
- A Succession Org Chart
There are even more features in the module, but for the sake of brevity I won’t cover them all this article.
Talent Review Process
While a formal Talent Review process is not necessary for Succession, it can be a very helpful starting point. To me, it marks the difference between an organization that takes Succession seriously as an open part of its culture vs. one that keeps the topic of Succession completely behind closed doors. Formalizing the process forces managers to stop and take the time to think about their direct reports, identify who is ready for advancement, and how to cultivate them for the future.
To help with formalizing the Talent Review process, SAP SuccessFactors offer an out-of-box Talent Review form. The form consists of a 9-box placement and comments section where managers can place each of their direct reports for which a form is launched.
In addition to a talent review form, calibration sessions can also be utilized to gather the “big picture” of resources from different major areas of the company and decide on 9-box placement amongst larger groups of participants in the planning sessions. Calibration sessions can also be used to determine key flags for resources as well such as “Risk of Loss” and “Impact of Loss”.
Another way to search across the company for people flagged as for Risk of Loss or Impact of loss—or any other talent field for that matter, is the Talent Search. This is the one-stop-shop for all talent info on your employees! Things like past performance ratings, skills and languages and degrees pulled from the talent profile are all here as well. Talent pools can also be made with the search results to help you organize your talent! There are all sorts of practical applications for Talent Search – for example in the search query I have made below, the results would show me all of my Good to Excellent performers for this year who are also willing to relocate—great information to have on hand when you have a critical position that is empty in a hard to fill location!
In addition to adding resources to talent pools, from here you can also nominate them for positions and also compare how well they stack up against one another in your search (is it just me or do Francois and John look related?)
Succession Org Chart
The Succession Org Chart is where it all comes together! Here you can navigate by position or by resources along the reporting chain and nominate people for positions. Clicking on a position shows you details about what Successors are in queue for the position. Clicking on a resource shows their “Talent Card” which can be customized to show a variety of talent information stored in the system from the various modules. You can even nominate successors from the candidate pool in recruiting!
The linage chart can also help with scenario planning, showing how a potential move could affect the downstream positions.
Phew! I’ve had a full year from conducting all of those talent reviews, talent searches, talent pools, and succession nominations, how about you? Oh no, now the big boss wants a presentation with all of this new data tomorrow morning! Luckily with the presentations feature, I won’t have to dig through all that data, throw it into spreadsheets, and copy / paste it into a power point deck! The feature comes with several pre-build slides where you simple choose some selection criteria and you can build things like 9-boxes and team views and pull up talent cards for employees using live data in interactive slides!
I love it! When is the right time to deploy?
As you might imagine from the description given in the introduction, I typically see companies get the most benefit from their Succession Planning system after all or most other components of the system have been implemented. This is because decision making is all about having the right up-to-date relevant information to keep you well informed – and in this case it is all of the data from all of those other modules that helps tell you who your high-potentials are and when they will be ready for a move. For example, the talent search functionality works best when resources have filled out their talent profile with things like education and skills – and the talent profile is often easiest to maintain if it has already been pre-populated when the employee was hired from the recruiting system using their candidate profile. Logically it is also best to establish a performance/potential matrix after you have evaluated everyone’s performance in the system. Further indicating the “right time” to deploy SAP Succession Management, there comes a point in a company’s growth when the Talent Director and/or Managers have had enough of their paper or excel-based Succession planning processes. If a Director or Manager of Talent is growth themselves, they will need to focus on strategy and growth instead of spending all night re-arranging people on excel spreadsheets. At a certain number of employees working within the company, the process simply becomes too burdensome to do manually. If you are at that point now, I’m sure you are eager to get started with all of the features I’ve described here
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