The Bottleneck – A Lack of Succession Planning in HR

We are all faced with a hobbling paradox. Most agree that employees make or break an enterprise, but the HR team often seems to be constantly catching up. Business leaders complain that they have to “break in” new HR people, and that individuals with HR degrees in college are not overly useful. Finally, when business leaders do praise HR, it is an individual person who gets praised, not the department. Obviously, this impacts Training and Development efforts directly. Any real effort to develop Big Skills requires a trust on the sponsor’s part and a competency on the deliverer’s part that too often are just not there. And any T+D efforts not around Big Skills is just treading water for the training group. As I work with global organizations, I have recently been aware of a staggering truth. Most HR groups have no succession planning for themselves. This is true even when HR works hard to create succession planning for every other part of the enterprise. If this is true, it both provides an explanation and a surprisingly easy remedy for the Hobbled HR group. And best of all, HR is already good at it: they know the tools of identification, rotational assignments, fast tracking, retention for strategic talent, partnering with business groups on critical projects, and global exposure. We have all heard the jokes about the lawyer who died without leaving a will, or the shoemaker’s children going barefoot. So maybe it is time for the doctor to heal thyself.

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