Succession planning is about finding employees that can someday replace others who retire or decide to leave the company. In my opinion, there are two major factors that will have a great impact on the future of succession planning: the aging population; and rapidly-evolving technology.
The Aging Population
While listening to interviews from the Metropolitan Opera, I realized that many of those involved (sopranos, conductors, etc.,) only made their debut when the headlining act or lead was ill or decided to retire. You could probably argue that this is a field of excellence and this type of situation is quite normal—but wouldn’t the growing percentage of the elderly among the total population cause a similar effect?
With the aging population, we will probably retire at a later age. In 2010, the group of males and females aged between forty-five and forty-nine in the United States is larger than any other age category (see the US population pyramid for 2010). By 2050, the group of people aged 80 and more will be the most important in the US. If you think that developing countries like China will be in a different situation, think again: China will have the same problem by 2050 (see graph).
This got me thinking: if we’re going to work longer and retire later, the number of available jobs will probably decrease dramatically, and there will be less and less people to replace those who retire. As such, succession planning strategies as we know them today may no longer be so efficient.
Whether we like it or not, we will continue to use technology more and more in our daily work and lives, (with future generations using it more extensively, since they started when they were children). In some fields, like IT, those who cannot keep up with the latest technology will be less likely to be considered strong candidates for succession.
Also, technologies that have appeared recently may be outdated in five years and obsolete in ten. This will make employees not only strive to stay updated on the new advances of modern technology, but they may also be overwhelmed by the new and numerous tools, techniques, and knowledge, which will diminish their value on the job market—making them weak candidates for succession.
In less than half a century we will have more and more people retiring and less people to replace them. Moreover we will have even less children that will grow into being the employees we’ll need in all the industries we’ll have created. Unless we develop robots that can work for us, organizations will need to develop an efficient succession planning strategy that will ensure an optimal use of the workforce.
Do you think that the aging population and rapidly-evolving technology will change the way we do succession planning? Take a moment to complete our poll, or leave a comment to let us know what you think.
aging population is natural, but new generation naturally can also adopt when their turn comes.
i’m not against technology, but this will be the biggest impact. Too many software nowadays are comming out like mushrooms. Today you’l train for it next month you’l train for another newer one again. its like chasing the wind? useles!
@rei Thanks for your comment. Frankly, i worry more about the aging population than technology. I don’t worry so much about technology because software providers will make it easy to use and learn, otherwise they will loose customers.
But there isn’t much we can do about the aging population.
Succession planning programs as they exist today in most organizations are little more than a joke. When an internal vacancy occurs, few organizations consult the succession plan when resolving the vacancy. More often than not, the vacancy provides an opportunity to reevaluate the nature of the job, to alter its responsibilities and to take into account innovations that have occurred.
Change is occurring much more frequently today than ever before. While I am a huge fan of workforce planning, succession planning isn’t as important to me.
I believe leading talent management organizations already understand the optimal way to deploy resources is in real-time. As such, succession plans can be eliminated if the organization has a world-class talent sourcing system capable of sourcing all labor types both inside and outside the organization QUICKLY.