Succession Planning and Onboarding

Workforce Management’s series of featured articles this week touch on several aspects of succession planning including the potential uses of new technology to improve this process. The current methods used by many companies to identify at-risk positions and prepare to shift competent employees into those jobs as they are vacated are often inadequate. A company’s entire planning process might simply consist of a yearly meeting and manual documentation of recommendations.

In a fast paced environment with thousands of employees and a large pool of upper management staff, this simply isn’t enough preparation. The wasted dollars spent on outside recruiting, the mad scramble to fill a vital position, and the poor decision making that results from being rushed are all costs associated with poor succession planning.

It is, generally, larger companies that have the most to gain from implementing an advanced software solution that makes tracking employee development and potential attrition possible. These are the employers who are most likely to have an internal candidate on hand who can step in and take over a critical position in a pinch. However, without visibility into who these qualified individuals are, the opportunity to plan ahead goes to waste. The right employees won’t receive the development and training resources necessary to groom them for leadership roles. Or, they may be overlooked in discussions about potential successors for positions outside their current department.

Leveraging a Larger Data Pool to Assess Your Talent Pool

Blogger and HR software analyst Jim Holincheck envisions a merging of talent management solutions with the wealth of information available about employees in the social networking arena. Think about the kind of valuable info HR could gather from sources such as FaceBook about where an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests lie. While legality, accuracy, and privacy are all real concerns with this kind of data “scavenging”, the idea is still an interesting one.

For example, onboarding could be leveraged to assist in collecting much more detailed information than is typically gathered. During acculturation, new hires can be encouraged to participate fully in their employer’s social networking platform including filling out an extensive profile. Obviously, no prohibited questions would be asked and the disclosure of any personal information would have to be fully voluntary and not coerced. Plus, any data gathered shouldn’t be used to make decisions that could be viewed as discriminatory based on protected categories.

However, collecting information employees freely choose to post on their employer’s own internal social networking site would not represent an invasion of privacy in any sense. This type of information could be located and imported to each new hire’s electronic file by tapping into specific data fields in their social networking profile. Or, skills and interests could be located using keyword searches – depending on which method is most efficient and cost effective for a particular employer.

How might this information be useful? Holincheck gives the example of an employee posting on a social networking site about being in the process of learning a second language. Such an individual might be a prime candidate for approaching about an opportunity to take a promotion and manage a new location in a country where that language is spoken. That’s a perfect example of the kind of data about tangential competencies that could be reasonably garnered during acculturation onboarding – and used to benefit both employees and the organization as a whole.

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