Luck Favors the Prepared: Talent Acquisition and Succession Strategies

Here’s why you will fail without improved talent acquisition and succession planning strategies.


Every business leader imagines building a team that will last forever. One stocked full of talented people, one that wins every deal, and one that always pushes profits up.

But that’s not reality.

Because what every business leader knows is that nothing lasts forever, a fact made even clearer by the years-long effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation on workplace continuity. Instead of planning for stability, leaders must plan for change. Look at the statistics: A recent Harvard Business Review analysis estimated that poorly managed C-suite transitions in the S&P 1500 can wipe out $1 trillion a year in market value.

You have to look at talent management and talent acquisition strategy like the head coach of a sports team. You’re not going to win every game, and even if you’re the defending champion, there are always ways to improve. Where are the holes in your roster? Are people being challenged in an effective and motivating way? Are there ample opportunities for growth and achievement?

The bottom line is that minimizing disruption and ensuring continuity requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. Because the impact — across complex senior roles and entry-level, development-focused ones — can be enormous.

Being a Pro(active) Leader

The best defense is a good offense.

That’s why strong succession planning — through both long-tail internal and external talent acquisition — can help set you apart in your business management strategy. Success in succession is all about the continuous identification of potential candidates and the constant preparation of them as leaders.

If you’re not planning ahead, as any hiring manager knows, the day of employee exodus will be a day of internal chaos as you desperately search for candidates to fill open roles. You should have a pool of candidates ready at all times, should changes occur.

Think of it like financial planning. Those investing a dollar per day now are going to have much more money down the road than those who aren’t.

Hiring is much the same: If you’re talking to potential candidates now — before any roles are even open — you’ll be well-equipped to survive later on when you need to acquire new talent. This can not only help eliminate uncertainty for yourself, but for your entire team.

Attracting a Diverse Pipeline

The word “diversity” has been used so often by business leaders in recent years that its true meaning hardly carries weight any longer. It’s time to take that meaning back.

Because diversity, equity, inclusion and the like are about more than just talking points and wish-casting. You can’t simply expect to wind up with a team that encompasses all ages, races, backgrounds and lifestyles. Often, HR teams recruiting and filling vacant positions come up short on applying a cohesive strategy to their efforts that considers the future needs and DEI goals of the organization. Their approach is susceptible to being reactive and overly tactical.

An overall talent acquisition strategy should build up an organization that truly attracts professionals from all walks of life so that they can contribute in unique and meaningful ways.

This must span all levels of the business, from entry-position team members to senior leaders. This must break down geographic biases and reinvent entire outlooks on recruiting, organizing and leading teams. And this must be about more than just putting a Band-Aid on DEI issues by employing a “diverse” leader here or there. To change our mindset, we have to uncover the true cause of the problem — not just treat its symptoms.

Acting Out Against Aging Out

The workforce in the U.S. is rapidly aging. More Boomers are retiring every day, and they’re leaving a large gap behind them in the workforce — both in raw personnel numbers and in institutional knowledge that cannot be easily replaced.

That’s why a strategic approach is necessary today. Because equipping younger generations to join the tech workforce — and to be excited about doing so! — is no easy task if you start doing it the day after your VP of Sales has retired. Your team’s approach to career development and knowledge transfer must be all-encompassing, with dedicated strategies for ensuring long-term success.

Without this forethought, productivity and innovation alike are at great risk. So, work with your team to develop a plan that can be easily communicated and conveyed to employees, one that can serve as a guidepost for both career development and lengthy tenures.

Then, maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll just so happen to run off one or two of those perfect, undefeated seasons you’ve always dreamed of. Just maybe.

Craig Davis

Craig Davis is Head of Cloud Success Services at SAP North America.

Zebra MC9400
Craig Davis
Craig Davis is Head of Cloud Success Services at SAP North America.