Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management? Identifying the “Next One Up”!   


The war for talent for Sourcing and Supply Chain organizations has never been tougher.  Every day we hear about high unemployment, but the truth is that strong professionals in our discipline continue to be very hard to come by.  Which is why I am shocked when clients tell me that they have done little to NO succession planning.  Even worse is when a key employee leaves for whatever reason and they are literally scrambling to figure out what to do next.  And by the way, the problem is going to get worse because COVID has created a new way of doing recruiting by opening up the borders and allowing companies to draw from talent anywhere in the world. 

An article in HBR entitled “Reengineering the Recruitment Process” points out some of the challenges in a post COVID environment.  The article suggests that “when looking to fill a vacancy, too often managers simply put together a profile mirroring that of the person who has left, perhaps tacking on a few new requirements. At best, this yields candidates who are prepared for yesterday’s challenges but probably not ready for tomorrow’s. Human resources leaders should push hiring managers to look beyond the immediate needs of their business units and consider what skills the larger organization must acquire to succeed in the future.”   With all due respect, very few organizations have an HR department that plays this strategic role so it is usually left up to the functional department to deal with recruitment, retention and most importantly succession planning on their own.

Here are some common challenges in succession planning and perhaps why it is not being addressed:

  • Succession planning is an annual (or NOT) perfunctory activity (naming process)
  • Succession plans are not considered as part of the recruiting process
  • Competencies are not factored into succession plans
  • Succession planning does not go beyond one level up or down
  • Managers don’t think about who their successor might be
  • Frequently separate from other elements of talent management

If succession planning is on your “To Do” list (and it should be) here are some key questions to think about and address:

  • Do we have a succession plan?
  • Do we have a competency model?
  • Do we have a strategic workforce plan?
  •  How does our succession plan tie to our strategic workforce plan and our competency model?
  • How can we cross train and build resiliency?
  • Who will be the leaders of tomorrow?
  • Have we identified the “next up” for each critical position?
  • How do we make succession planning an ogoing activity?
  • What is the plan to make our function a talent factory

Here are a few thoughts on what to do to get started:

  1. Develop a formal Succession Planning program / process that integrates your competency model
  2. Develop cross-training, coverage, and job-shadowing processes to prepare potential succession candidates for promotion opportunities
  3. Identify High-Potential employees and launch a rotation within your function to further develop them – need more than just a “list”
  4. Highlight key knowledge transfer requirements (backups) so that critical information is retained when employees do leave the organization
  5. Every “manager” needs to identify their replacement OR develop them

Putting a succession plan in place is not rocket science but in our current environment, it is absolutely essential.  It can actually be as simple as identifying the “Next One Up”!

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation.  . . . . .     


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