6-13-16_blog.pngMost executives believe leadership competencies are necessary for business unit success — yet many feel a significant number of employees and job candidates lack them, according to two recent Society for Human Resource Management surveys.

When an organization experiences a sudden leadership gap, due to employee retirement or another factor, having a shortage of internal or external candidates with the necessary competencies can be a problem.

Succession planning concerns have been an issue for numerous organizations, including more than a third of SHRM’s February survey respondents, who reported a leadership and navigation competency deficiency in their talent pool.

HR professionals and non-HR C-suite executives feel developing the next generation of leaders will be the top human capital challenge in the next decade, according to SHRM’s Business and Human Capital Challenges report.

It’s a challenge that needs to be addressed. For succession planning to be effective, organizations need to identify current and anticipated leadership gaps, correct existing shortages and take steps to proactively prevent imminent issues.

If you’ve experienced leadership gaps and resulting productivity issues in the past — or aren’t sure you’ve adequately protected yourself against future gaps — the following tips can help strengthen your succession planning efforts.

Work from within: Solid succession planning should include an emphasis on current employees. Internal candidates are familiar with the way your organization works; they also often get higher initial performance ratings than external hires and are less likely to leave, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. To help guide high-performers into future leadership roles, offer training and education, mentoring and other skill-building opportunities.

Include passive recruiting in succession planning. Chances are, you know how to set an active recruiting plan in motion, when a leadership gap arises. Passive recruiting efforts, however, need to be ongoing to be successful. Social media sites can help you reach passive candidates, maintain a relationship and subtly sell them on your workplace’s best benefits. Nearly half — 47 percent — of companies view social media as an effective employment branding tool, according to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report.

2-1-16_blog_3.jpgReview your succession plan on a regular basis. To ensure you’re addressing current and future needs correctly, build regular reviews into your annual calendar, possibly on a quarterly or six-month basis, and factor in any personnel changes, newly created roles and other elements that could require succession planning modifications.

For more on succession planning and preventing leadership gaps, read our recent blog posts on expecting the unexpected, the generational succession planning issue you may not have planned for and how organizations that have experienced leadership gaps can benefit from passive recruiting.