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Why You Need to be a More Sporting Employer

Date: 30 July 2015

There may be no Olympics or FIFA World Cup this year, but luckily for the avid armchair sports-fan there are a huge number of other events on show. So far, we’ve seen the Women’s World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Tour De France. August sees the US PGA and the Rugby World Cup starting in September will bring another action-packed sporting summer to a close.

But in order to sustain any kind of long-term progress in sport, as well as focusing on the present each of these teams needs to think about the future. Take the New Zealand Rugby team, for example. Their focus on a robust succession plan is just one of the ingredients of their consistent winning formula. It is one of the key strategies that allows teams to grow into sporting powerhouses, and is as important for the individual as it is for the team as a whole.

So, if succession planning is something that all successful sporting teams have in common, what can employers learn from it? Many businesses fall into the trap of relying on a few key people to ensure ongoing success. However, if one of those individuals (for whatever reason) is suddenly no longer working for your company, its future success is put at risk.

According to the Journal of Accountancy, up to 79% of businesses acknowledge that succession planning will be a major issue for them over the coming five to ten years. A recent CEO survey by PWC found that although 78% believed that over regulation was the top threat to business growth, “the availability of key skills” was also given special attention.

But before you too find yourself in that situation, let’s apply a spot of physics to the situation. Enter Newton’s laws of motion: an object at rest stays at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion until something interrupts its movement; and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…

In a business context, everything was ticking along nicely until the recession hit. At this time the majority of businesses essentially turned off their succession-planning pipelines. Reluctantly, companies had to let staff go, every three employees soon found themselves covering the workload of five people, promotional opportunities became stunted and there was a distinct lack of junior-level hiring.

These actions were barely avoidable in the circumstances, but what has it meant for the longer-term business landscape (that equal and opposite reaction)? We have now, of course, emerged from the recession into recovery – or flat growth, at least - and employees are feeling frustrated. Employer-loyalty is wearing thin and as job security has become less of a concern, there is increasing willingness of individuals to jump ship.

Employers therefore need to take this opportunity to build their talent pool once again.  Of course, many organisations will already have certain elements of a succession plan in place; recruitment policies, skills analysis, management development and performance all help shape a succession plan.

Succession planning needs to be a company-wide issue. Here at Phaidon International, we advise you to celebrate and develop those employees with high potential so your organisation has a better chance of retaining them. You also need to identify talent gaps, gear your efforts to filling those gaps and regularly review your pay and rewards schemes.

And just remember, if you can identify a lack of succession planning in your football/cricket/rugby team, you can apply that to the workplace, too.

If your company is struggling to manage your talent pipeline and business continuity, Phaidon International can help. Several of our clients have suffered the consequences of succession planning neglect and we are working with them to rectify these issues. Get in touch to find out how we can help you be a more sporting employer.

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