You’ve got talent – how to be succession-smart in 2018

A company is only as good as its talent. Effective succession planning can help your business retain and recruit the best people to take it forward.

Why succession planning?

There has never been a better time in the Middle East to put into place a succession plan. But finding talented individuals is more of a challenge than ever. Your organisation needs talent that can step quickly into leadership or key roles – and do so seamlessly. Succession planning will help you do just that.

The challenge of finding talent

Throughout 2018, succession planning, particularly in the UAE, will need to concentrate more on finding local talent.As cited in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, fulfilling local quotas will become a major consideration for those in senior roles in the Middle East.

Local recruitment is an ideal. But in reality many organisations will continue to look overseas and at local expat talent. In turn, this means obtaining visas and other bureaucracy that comes with importing talent – including the long wait between the recruitment process kick-off and the employee’s start date – will continue to be an issue in 2018.

The challenge of keeping talent

Training and development can help you retain and recruit expat and local talent.

Willis Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study surveyed 31,000 employees worldwide, including 748 from the Middle East. Of those, job security was the third most frequently cited reason employees join a company. The second most popular reason was the opportunity to learn new skills.

But by far the most important reason for either staying at or joining a company (given by 55%) was career progression.This means even expat employees can be convinced to eschew short-termism and see their future at your company given the right training and development incentives.

Look at how you can use technology to compliment your talent-retention strategy – for example, how it can aid remote working. With more employees demanding a better work-life balance, you may need to look at how this can be used to compliment your succession planning.

Choosing your talent

Succession planning means singling out individuals. Above all, once you have found that talent you need to be open with people and talk about their aims and ambitions, as it may be that the preferred candidate has no intention of taking over. These questions will also help you to identify any ongoing training needs or skill gaps.

You might also need to look at incentive schemes to help retain employees whose contribution is essential to the long-term success of the business.

Keep in mind that brightest is not always best. On paper your team member may have the qualifications required, but if they lack communication and team-building skills they might not be ready to move to a more senior leadership role.

Time is everything

There is no substitute for investment in your key team members – whether it is time, training or development through exposure to the work of other departments. Succession planning starts from the moment someone joins the company. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recruit from the outside.

You should be constantly assessing your existing talent pool and looking beyond your organisation, something Brewer Morris can help with. You have to be honest. There may be limitations within your team and tough decisions to be made. But this is all part of an effective succession plan.

Remember that any succession plan also has to build in change. Things happen when you least expect it – whether it’s a change in regulation, market forces or issues you simply cannot predict.

A succession plan may not cover all bases, but it means that you are prepared for the worst and the best. This can only make your organisation stronger and one in which you will attract the very best to work, and to stay working, with you.