Strategies to Improve Succession in a High-Disruption Environment | Gartner

Talent Management

Succession planning has long been a top priority for many organizations. Still, we are often reminded how executives can fall short of performance expectations within 12-18 months of taking on a new role. One report by DDI, Leadership Transitions Report 2021, shows that nearly half of externally hired executives fail in their roles; the numbers are only slightly better (35%) for internally promoted executives.

While developing and retaining the best successors has always been hard to do, it has become increasingly challenging for organizations to implement in rapidly changing environments faced with disruption.

This new Gartner article provides ideas for building robust leadership pipelines amid disruption and continuous change. One case study involves Bridgestone, which uses two strategies for implementing adaptable approaches to succession planning.

  • Before discussing who should fill a critical role, Bridgestone’s HR and business leaders analyze the role and consider making changes based on current and future business needs. They ask questions such as, “If the person in this critical role leaves, would we keep this role?” and, “Knowing our strategy and future goals, do we need this role as it looks today?” If a change is needed, Bridgestone’s leaders eliminate the role, split it up based on potential successors’ current capabilities, or redesign it based on strategic goals.
  • Bridgestone also creates pools of potential successors for roles duplicated across multiple business units (e.g., multiple business units may have a vice president of finance.) These cross-business talent pools increase the number of available successors for a given role, which makes it easier to fill critical roles if someone leaves suddenly.

As a bonus, I am resharing this one-page template I created that has 10 succession metrics. This reference can be used as a starting point for determining the vital few metrics an organization will use to measure its succession effectiveness.