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A first-class lesson in succession planning and talent pipelining (from the world of football)

By James Bessant, 18th November 2016

Many great organisations understand the importance of having a plan in-place when the worst-case scenario happens; your top performing employee or manager leaves the company. 

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This can leave a gaping hole in the business which at best can slow down business / team performance and at worst, rip the heart out of the company causing many other people to leave.

Football (or soccer for any US readers) is possibly one of the worst sectors for retention with managers / coaches being fired at the first sign of trouble and players breaking contracts on a consistent basis. Worse still, it is incredibly rare to see clubs having the foresight to put together a clear, concise succession plan to not only cope with the loss of key personnel but to then thrive off the back of it.

The excellent BBC article on Southampton FC demonstrates a business which has identified its position in their market. They understand they are not the biggest name who don’t pay the highest salaries or will win awards and trophies. They also know their manager and players are likely to be targets for those with bigger budgets.

Despite this, through using a highly analytical approach, they have adopted a long-term succession plan which ensures they always have numerous, well-researched options who will fit to the style of their team and the culture of their club.

In the commercial business world, there are companies who have fantastic internal teams who know their sector like the back of their hand. The crucial part though is how much are you engaging with your future employees before you actually need to bring them into a formal interview process? If your employer brand is not as well known, it is critical you are building that pipeline of engaged talent who will be knocking on your door if you need them. Always be interviewing!

Creating a long-term succession plan and building an engaged talent pipeline is definitely not an overnight tactic; it is time consuming and requires a leadership team who are consistently looking ahead. To prevent this becoming as much of a necessity, focusing on employee retention and engagement strategies will help to reduce staff churn. Please find our latest report on nine key areas to implement for a successful employee retention strategy.

Tags: football, succession planning, talent pipeline, talent pipelining, employee retention, employer advice, Employer, talent spotting, assign James Bessant,

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