We read with interest a story via OnRec this week that ‘UK managers shy away from workforce planning in fear of a coup’. The article quoted research of over 500 UK managers, with four in ten (39%) of managers surveyed admitting that a potential successor would make them feel uncertain about their job security.

Perhaps this explains why such a high proportion (over half) had yet to identify a successor for themselves.

Succession planning is of course a critical component of any workforce plan, and promoting internal talent is the most cost-effective (and arguably best) way to fill a vacancy. Having a figure already familiar with the company’s processes, its culture and colleagues obviously makes for a stand-out candidate – additionally, clear and open opportunities for progression also helps to retain key talent. 

For managers, shaping a dependable junior figure for a more senior role should be no cause for concern. In the short-term, the assistance and ability to delegate some responsibilities will no doubt be welcome. Looking further ahead, rather than be fearful they’re training a direct replacement, managers should recognise an opportunity for their own progression and taking their understudy upwards with them.

The real question here though is, should (non-hiring) managers be responsible for identifying their own successor?

A defined workforce plan, one that not only takes into account succession but aligns with key business objectives and anticipates talent gaps throughout the organisation, should fall under the remit of a recruitment strategist.

That way, a more holistic approach can be taken and the appropriate sourcing strategy deployed when a vacancy arises – this could be an internal hire (as in the case of a succession plan), but equally a different type of candidate might be preferable. Only with full visibility of the recruitment process can the best decisions be made, and a manager, or even a recruitment generalist, is unlikely to have access to such high-level insight.

Either a senior figure at boardroom level, or a strategic recruitment partner with a voice at the highest level, should be formulating and executing a workforce plan, as this is the only way it can truly support the business in a proactive way, rather than at a tactical level.

We’ve put together an overview of how this type of strategic model can work to deliver tangible business benefits, where strategic initiatives like workforce planning and sourcing strategy are harnessed to drive real value to organisations. To discover more, download our free eBook.