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What’s the difference between Talent Reviews and Succession Planning?

Posted by Amy Wilson on September 27, 2010

We’ve learned a lot from our customers over the last few years.  One of the key lessons was about Talent Reviews.

Talent Review: what's not to love?

A Talent Review is a critical interaction between a group of business leaders and their HR/Talent business partner.  The group comes together for a day or two to talk about their business priorities, the talent they have, and make decisions about the future (minimizing risk, promotions, organization changes, developmental priorities, future staffing, and succession plans).  The HR department spends week upon week preparing for the meeting and even more time turning the decisions made in the meeting into reality.

For the HR department focused on being a strategic business partner, all the hard work is worth it.  Why? It is the time when business priorities and talent decisions come together.  It is the time that business leaders talk about what really matters about their talent – what is going to bring them a competitive advantage.  And, what’s more?  This is being done today in most leading organizations.  It is a best practice for businesses and HR alike.

What’s not to love?  Very little, actually.  There is a lot of love for Talent Reviews.  The one issue we saw time and again was that there was little support for this highly strategic process from a tools perspective – and in particular, tools that made it possible to make the process more frequent and bring it deeper into the organization.  There were lots of binders, excel spreadsheets, powerpoints, and whiteboards in use.  Quite a few home grown tools were created and some were trying to jerry-rig succession planning software for this purpose.  But succession planning software was not designed for this business process.

Just like development plans, promotion decisions, and risk mitigation plans, succession plans are an outcome of the Talent Review process.  Sometimes, succession plans aren’t even discussed at all!  Even so, the talent review is a rich and worthwhile conversation with many valuable outcomes.

Succession planning – including the creation and tracking of talent pools and pipelines as well as the simulation of what-if replacement scenarios – is a process that most HR organizations are working to implement.  They see the value in getting there, but the rigor and complexity of “getting there” is hard.  Meanwhile, the Talent Review process, in some form or another, is in place in most organizations today.  The Talent Review process can bring immediate value to HR and the business, thereby facilitating the succession planning process.

Ultimately, the leading organizations we work with use both Talent Reviews and Succession Planning to get the best results for their business.

3 Responses to “What’s the difference between Talent Reviews and Succession Planning?”

  1. […] the means of determining talent pool membership includes manager defined, 360 degree feedback and Talent Reviews.  Once in a talent pool, HR typically helps drive leadership development curriculum appropriate […]

  2. […] Are your positions c… on Leadership Pipeline vs. Succes…To Talent Pools … on What’s the difference be…Surachart Opun on Lurkers welcomeSteve Boese on Lurkers welcomeNamita Panigrahi on Do you […]

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