Research shows demand for a refreshed approach to Succession Planning

Our Executive Search division, Inspired Search, has published its second white paper. This one is on Succession Planning and summarises research into how publishing companies can plan for a successful future through a review of existing Executive level talent and future talent needs in line with key business objectives. We look at how in times of change with regard to legislation, workforce and industry trends, there is a need to also evaluate and adapt our approach to Succession Planning.

We conducted a study of in-depth interviews and analysed existing approaches to Succession Planning at the Executive level within publishing. This was all in the context of the 2011 legislation - dropping the default retirement age - the increase of ‘millennials’ into Senior Management Team (SMT) positions, and an ever-changing publishing landscape. Typical ‘next-in-line’ approach to Succession Planning no longer necessarily fit-for purpose, we put forward, in the paper, a broader, ongoing approach involving: planning against company objectives, gap analysis, talent retention, an action plan and the handover.

By 2020, over one third of the global workforce will comprise millennials and we will see many of these taking SMT seats within publishing companies. There are many benefits to this as undoubtedly, there is a huge amount of talent in this generation and amazing drive and ambition that will really enable publishers to grow.  On the other hand, millennials are known for their love of flexibility and propensity to move jobs and careers and while an internal candidate may be our Succession Plan for a future Executive vacancy, it may be their plan for success that leads us to lose them to other companies and indeed other career paths altogether.

This paper describes the need to map Executive skills needs against 1 to 5 year business plans and, in turn, map that against existing talent in the business. We show how this gap analysis can inform retention plans and staff development, creation of job descriptions to allow for a successful pipeline and the way we map the talent pool for our Executives’ successors. Additionally, we look at the benefits of hiring a Successor from internal and external sources with effective change management and mitigation of the risk of confirmation bias being common advantages of the latter.

The people we have in Executive and Senior Management positions in our companies are the key ingredient to a successful future. We need to give due time and investment into planning for these teams and this includes readying our internal pipeline as well as having an open mind about the benefits of bringing those in from external sources.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the paper or having a discussion around it, please don’t hesitate to contact our Search Director, Abigail Barclay on / 020 3668 6727.