1. Why Is Succession, Engagement and Development Data Underutilized?

    Written By: Jamie Strnisha, Principal Consultant, Workforce Analytics and Planning

    shutterstock_208457521 - Copy (800x533)A colleague of mine from SuccessFactors shared the results of a survey they recently conducted.

    I was particularly struck by a slide that shows the various talent management data terrains and the area of utilization. SuccessFactors concluded that 40% of respondents indicated that Succession and Engagement were most underutilized. I would actually add in Development as well and find that 52% of respondents have indicated that the softer side of talent management (Succession, Engagement and Development) or perhaps the strategic side of HR, isn’t using data to back up their recommendations. I find this quite concerning.

    One of the main reasons that I find this concerning is that for years, HR has been writing about not having a seat at the table. And over the last few years, HR practitioners have been indicating that if we want to have a seat at the table, we need to start with data and analytics to get that seat. HR needs to bring hard numbers like Finance, Marketing, Sales and Operations to support its recommendations.

    Where’s the place where HR practitioners can provide the most unique value as an HR function? I actually believe that is in developing, engaging and ensuring that there is a pipeline of talent to meet the organization’s future business needs. If HR functions do this well and focus on these outcomes, our organizations stay competitive. It also means that HR practitioners are having the conversations with senior executives about who is the organization, how ready those employees are for new roles and challenges and whether the organization is providing these employees the right opportunities to take on these roles.

    I wonder as I look at this data if organizations are underutilizing this data because they don’t have succession, engagement or development  programs in place for employees. If these programs aren’t in place today, I highly encourage organizations to start building the framework for putting these programs in place. Based on my experience with companies and SuccessFactors software, I believe that many organizations have many of the programs and processes in place to support Succession, Engagement and Development, so I encourage organizations and HR practitioners to take the next step and start analysis and reporting on this data.

    HR practitioners need to be able to answer questions such as:

    • What is the bench strength of our organization?
    • Do we have development plans and successors identified for our critical roles?
    • How do we engage our High Potentials and ensure that they are focused on the most value add activities? Are we providing them the right development opportunities to make them successful for their next roles?
    • What incumbents in our organization are blockers? Are we losing the employees that have been identified as successors for those roles? How do we keep these successors engaged?
    • Are our new managers getting the right support and development opportunities to be successful in their first 30, 60 and 90 days? Same questions for our executives?
    • How do we engage all of our employees and provide them opportunities to take on new challenges in their current roles?

    If you want more information on the survey, you can click on the hyperlink here and it will take you to the results. If you’d like to discuss the results or know more about them, please contact Mick Collins (, Rana Hobbs ( or me ( and any of us would be happy to discuss.


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