Succession Planning: Leveraging Skills Intelligence Data for Maximum Impact

Leah Prevost


The quest to identify and nurture talent for business-critical job roles is a significant undertaking. With the rapid pace of change and increasing uncertainty, traditional top-down succession planning no longer suffices. Instead, there is a growing trend towards recognizing clusters of roles and cultivating potential future leaders. This approach aims to establish a diverse pool of adaptable employees ready to fill various roles, thereby creating a talent reservoir that surpasses immediate and long-term succession needs.

At Lexonis we have seen modern succession planning take on a markedly different form, characterized by a broader vision, enhanced openness, and a commitment to diversity. Critical roles are now identified at all levels within an organization, underscoring an intensified focus on nurturing and advancing homegrown talent—particularly critical for organizations reliant on specialized organizational knowledge.

Crafting skills-based job role profiles, complemented by a robust assessment process, emerges as the foundation for evaluating capability, fostering development, and identifying potential successors.

The Imperative: Why It Matters

Consider the sobering statistics gleaned from an article on LinkedIn entitled ‘5 Shocking Succession Planning Statistics: The Harsh Reality of How Much NO Succession Plan Is Costing You’:

  1. CEO turnover stands at its highest in two decades, with CEOs averaging less than five years in tenure.
  2. Despite a staggering $370 billion investment in leadership development programs, a staggering 5 out of 6 HR Managers express dissatisfaction with their outcomes.
  3. Merely 35% of organizations boast a formalized succession planning process for critical roles.
  4. A startling 74% of leaders admit to being ill-prepared and lacking the requisite training for the challenges inherent in their roles.
  5. Sixty percent of executives falter within the initial 18 months of their promotion or hire.

There is no question that there is a real business imperative for addressing an outdated succession planning strategy.

Navigating the Approach

Start by directing attention to business-critical roles, gradually widening the scope to encompass other pivotal roles across divisions or geographic territories.

So, how does one pinpoint the business-critical roles crucial for potential successors? 

Leveraging skills intelligence data is instrumental in identifying these pivotal roles:

  • Identify the skills and competencies most vital for business success.
  • Determine which roles necessitate these critical skills and ascertain the requisite mastery level.
  • Identify individuals within the organization possessing these skills and competencies, pinpointing those ready for development.
  • Pinpoint jobs requiring unique skill sets that may prove challenging to fill.
  • Uncover employees occupying these roles and identify potential candidates who have indicated a desire to develop the skills required for success in these roles.

Skills-based talent management tools such as Lexonis TalentScape and skill and job taxonomies like the IBM Talent Framework library help organizations to fast-track this approach. The skills intelligence data derived from workforce analytic reports provided by Lexonis TalentScape address these specific requirements and support such an approach.

Concluding Insights

Harnessing workforce skills intelligence data serves as the linchpin for refining succession planning initiatives. Modern succession planning acknowledges employees’ desire for active participation in managing their career progression. Insights gleaned from individual assessments serve to align individuals and line managers, fostering collaborative development planning efforts.

By pivoting towards skills as the primary evaluation criterion for identifying future leaders, organizations can cultivate a broader candidate pool while mitigating for any bias. Armed with skills data, organizations gain unparalleled visibility into the development trajectory and key milestones for nurturing employees into leaders. Ultimately, workforce skills intelligence data empowers organizations to make well-informed decisions, laying the groundwork for building and developing future leaders grounded in their skills.

Dedicating time and energy as an organization to this critical imperative is paramount. Developing a talent-centric culture will foster increased employee engagement and limit the turnover and productivity losses that often accompany it.

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