Charles Coy, senior director of analyst and community relations at Cornerstone OnDemand, provides three succession planning tips avoid the game of HR Jenga.

There’s more to succession planning than identifying the next wave of senior managers or VPs. While it’s important to groom future leaders for your company, a singular focus on finding “leadership” often comes at the cost of missing talent for lower-level positions.

When this happens, your succession planning strategy can feel a lot like a game of Jenga: take a piece from the bottom, put it on top, and hope the tower doesn’t crumble! As with Jenga, the longer you play, the more gaps you create–and the more unstable your talent structure becomes.

Instead of creating “holes” throughout the bottom of an organization and hoping for the best, HR professionals need to think holistically about the talent lifecycle. When succession and recruiting are in sync, you can proactively fill those holes, allowing recruiters to find better quality candidates in a shorter timeframe and at a lower cost.

Here are three ways to integrate succession and recruiting–and to avoid the game of HR Jenga:

Identify Core Competencies

In order to recruit the best talent for your organization, it’s crucial to understand what defines your current top talent. Take a look at your current leaders to identify the key traits of successful employees across your organization. What natural abilities do they have? What new skills have they learned? Where did these hires get their start?

Eventually, you’ll be able to map out succession scenarios for any position from the point of hire, instead of just for the senior levels.

Consolidate Resources

After identifying indicators of success, consolidate your talent information in one place. This will provide recruiters with insight into upcoming talent gaps as current employees are promoted, so they can source candidates based on the skills of proven leaders.

A central information hub will also allow for more “horizontal” succession planning, or employee rotation, instead of just focusing on the “vertical” career ladder. It’s often difficult for recruiters to identify the skills of current employees, leading them to look externally first for new positions and miss out on internal people who are perfect for the job (but might be in a different department).

Internal hiring improves morale–as company mobility drives retention, especially for millennials–and also saves your organization money. According to the Saratoga Institute, it costs 1.7 times more to hire externally than internally.

Develop a Pipeline of Ready Talent

Last but not least, a solid succession plan relies on a standing pipeline of talent–whether it’s current employees or candidates–that meet the “core competencies” outlined in the first step. Along with having an up-to-date list of qualified successors for certain positions, you can “nurture your bench” by providing training for employees who may meet most, but not all, of the criteria.

Then, when faced with a planned or unplanned vacancy, the recruiting team will be able to quickly fill the role with the perfect person.

Effective succession planning takes every position into account–from entry-level to executive. By unifying succession and recruiting efforts, HR leaders can cultivate a high-impact organization from the bottom up. Not only will this prevent your team from facing an unstable Jenga tower of talent, it will also improve company culture, lower overall recruiting costs, and ensure quality new employees.

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