Linking Human Resource Strategy and Succession Planning and Management

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Human resource strategy is the means that the organization chooses to make

the most effective use of its HR programs and activities to satisfy organizational

needs. Important steps in this process parallel those in organizational strategy

making: (1) determining the purpose, goals, and objectives of the HR function;

(2) scanning the external environment to identify future threats and opportunities

affecting HR inside and outside the organization; (3) appraising the organization’s

present HR strengths and weaknesses; (4) examining the range of

HR strategies available; (5) choosing an HR strategy that is likely to support

the organizational strategy; (6) implementing HR strategy through changes in

such programs as training, selection, compensation, benefits, and labor relations;

and (7) evaluating HR strategy periodically for how well it supports organizational

strategy.

Unfortunately, efforts to integrate HR strategy and organizational strategy

have met with only mixed success. As Golden and Ramanujam write, ‘‘the

lack of integration between human resource management (HRM) and strategic

business planning (SBP) processes is increasingly acknowledged as a major

source of implementation failures. It is often alleged that companies develop

strategic plans based on extensive marketing and financial data but neglect the

human resource requirements necessary to successfully implement them.’’6

Numerous theories have been developed over the years to identify ways to

link organizational and HR strategy.7 However, little evidence exists to show

that great strides have been made in this area.8

To link HR planning and SP&M, decision-makers should examine how well

HR policies and practices help—or hinder—leadership continuity, individual

advancement, and the cultivation of internal talent. More specifically:

How does the organization conduct recruitment, selection, and placement?

How much consideration is given during this process to longterm

retention and development of prospective or new employees?

How does the organization conduct training, education, and development?

How much (relative) attention is given to the long-term cultivation

of employee talent—as opposed to focusing attention on training

individuals to meet immediate requirements?

How well do existing compensation and benefit practices support internal

placement? Transfers? Promotions? Are actual disincentives established

to dissuade employees from wanting to accept promotions or

assume leadership roles?

How do existing labor relations agreements affect the organization’s

promotion, rotation, transfer, and other employment practices?

To integrate HR strategy and SP&M, examine existing HR program efforts—

such as selection, training, compensation, and benefits—against succession

planning and management needs. Identify HR practices that could encourage

or that presently discourage effective SP&M. Then take active steps to ensure

that HR practices facilitate, and do not impede, long-term efforts to groom

talent from within.