Succession Planning in the Age of the Millennial

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Success Planning

Succession planning has long been a critical component of broader organizational planning. Proper succession planning ensures that an organization is well-insulated and prepared if changes in the business environment arise. If an organization can predict the challenges and opportunities that it will face – and implement plans to face them – it will be well-placed to emerge unscathed.

Millennials’ career perspectives will affect most organizations’ succession planning. An industry colleague and fellow millennial expert coined the term ‘Me Inc.’ to describe how Millennials view themselves and their careers. Millennials (also known as Gen Y) are the next great generation of workers; they are confident, tech savvy and will make a significant change in the workplace. But they do not define themselves by their place of employment. They view themselves as their own distinctive brand and they seek out opportunities to shape and develop their personal brand. The shifts organizations can expect to see include a shift from work/life balance to work/life blend; a shift from working towards building employers brands’ to individuals building their own brands; and a shift from employees hoping for ‘growth potential’ in their current companies to seeking ‘growth potential’ personally and in their careers, even if that means growing at another organization.

When it comes to succession planning, your organization can either become a platform for Millennials or it will face challenges engaging top talent. So how should you tweak your plans to ensure you have effective succession plans in place?

Embrace Flatter Organizations. Many companies have large hierarchies with employees at each level with a unique set of roles and responsibilities. This will have to change. An organization with two or three event coordinators, each executing their own portfolio of events, will be in a difficult situation if one of those individuals departs. A team-based approach to events is to be preferred. If your organization’s coordinators previously worked on three unique events, the team-based approach would see these three coordinators working together on a total of nine events. Within this team and on each event, their specific portfolios and responsibilities would change.  More importantly, they would each become knowledgeable on the details of more events. If someone were to depart, remaining employees could offer a temporary staffing solution and also serve to help on-board and transition new talent to the event team.

Fill the Pipeline. It is always important to get to know strong candidates and maintain relationships with them so that they can be potential future employees. These people should form part of your network and should be kept well-informed of your organization and the opportunities that exist within it. If strong candidates are in your pipeline, and if you were to suddenly need to make a change or someone were to leave your organization, it would be a seamless and smooth transition with little downtime on your event planning timelines. Although it is always important to have plans in place if people were to leave your organization, there are retention strategies that can be implemented as part of your succession plans to help reduce the organizations turnover and disruption to the event life cycle.

Re-evaluate the Opportunity. Is part of your plan to retain young talent and advance them within the organization? It may be time to refresh your incentives. Creating a program that profiles your people is a good start. Nominating your talent for industry awards, then publically recognizing them for their achievements, are great incentives for Gen Y.  Creating a culture with flexible work hours that acknowledges the work/life blend and supporting an employee’s hobbies and volunteer commitments that may overlap with the workday are also great incentives. Giving a Millennial time to develop their professional brand will yield a great level of commitment to your organization and what it stands for.

This article was originally featured in MPI Toronto Chapter’s Meetings Magazine and can be seen here

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