Finding Satisfied Employees To Fill Voids


More and more managers are complaining that they cannot find satisfied employees to fill the void in working positions. When some excellent employees leave their companies, it's hard to recruit new employees who are competent to the jobs. In today's fast-paced world, organizations can't miss a beat, especially when it involves their people. The reason that these organizations are facing this dilemma is they don't prepare well for the future. It's a disaster when organizations cannot get the right people to replace the positions in time. However, some famous companies like Microsoft, Intel and Apple; they seldom face this kind of problem. Let's take a look at how these well-know corporations deal with this.

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, has always had to leave his job because his health state. Usually a company will be affected by the absence of its CEO. However, during his absence, Apple maintained operated smoothly and successfully. Even nobody has questioned: "What will Apple do without Steve?"

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Over the last 40 years, Intel has maintained a high level of growth and creation while it has transited through five CEOs. Paul Otellini, Intel's current CEO, had been working at Intel for more than 30 years before becoming CEO, and his supervisors have devoted their whole careers time at this company. Innovation and predictability have become the characteristic of the Intel. (Douglas Welton, 2009)

In fact, not only these companies, all the successful companies use a helpful tool to maintain high-quality continuity in leadership. This wonderful tool is called---succession planning, that's the key point why they can operate successfully all the time.

Main body


In previous years, labor resource in the United States was sufficient. Managers had lots of time to evaluate and prepare employees for promotion after long periods and to prepare more staff to secure the human resource crisis on working positions. That was true in that time because most working needed not comprehensive prequalification. Senior managers (high level management) in organizations are enough to make sure the improvement. Succession planning and management strategies mainly concentrated on higher lever leaders. The reason is organizations were managed from the "head" to "feet" and were mainly relied on the knowledge, experiences, skills, leadership competency and attitudes of top management.

However, as time changed, few organizations have the luxury to overstaff in the face of drastic global competition from low-cost labor abroad and economic restructuring efforts. That is particularly true in high-technology companies where several months' experience may be the equivalent of a year's work in a more stable industry. At the same time, products, markets, and management activities have grown more complex. Many jobs now require extensive prequalification, both inside and outside organizations. It's not just for positions, leadership competency have become important factors fewer employees compete for diminishing advancement opportunities. As employee authority has broadened the extend of decision makers, leadership influence can be exerted at all hierarchical levels rather than limited to those few granted authority by virtue of their lofty titles and managerial positions. (William J. Rothwell, 2010)

Unfortunately, United States is facing a demographic crisis.

From these two charts of US population by age, we can see from 1965-2025, people who are 55 or older is the most fast growing group and they make up the main population of US, Whereas the population of other groups is maintaining nearly the same. Baby Boomers started leaving their positions in 2008. It's supposed that Gen X will replace Baby Boomers' positions. However, the population of Gen X is much smaller than Baby Boomers'; most of them are too young to be qualified to some managing positions, so Gen X cannot fill the void which results from Boomers' leaving. The average retirement age in US was 62; it means the number of people who are not working is becoming larger. From 2010 the growth rate of labor force will fall dramatically from 12% to 2%. Projected labor force change by age shows huge hole in future workforce. What happens to work force if more and more employees are retiring with a low growth rate of work force? Definitely it results in a shrinking pool in workforce. It's a bad news to companies because they will suffer a lot if they cannot find the right person to fill the positions in time, especially when some skillful and experienced senior managers leave or retire from companies.

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For these reasons, organizational leaders must take proactive steps to plan for future talent needs at all levels and implement programs designed to ensure that the right people are available for the right jobs in the right places and at the right times to get the right results. The continuity of the organization over time requires a succession of persons to fill key positions. The best way to find talented individuals to fill roles in your organization is not the typical system of placing ads, making calls, and looking for individuals who might be unhappy in their current positions, and trying to do this during the two-week notice period of a departing employee is not going to help to find the best person for the position. (William J. Rothwell, 2010)

That's where succession planning comes in.

What's succession planning?

"Succession planning" is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and skillful employees that are hopeful to undertake these roles as they become available. This process focuses on seeking the right person, not just the available person. It's built on the idea of recognizing the potential leaders in organization and developing them so that they are ready to move up when the opportunity arises. It's one of the best methods to promote recruitment and retention in organization.

Although people often mix up replacement plans and succession planning, the latter is very different from former because its components are larger than one working post or department. While often related to planning for managers' replacements only, it is broader than it that it contains nearly every aspect of about the organization from the human resource to the daily working. It also differs from replacement planning by successors are evaluated by the management level of organization. A talent pool is identified based on each level of management. The usually objective is get 80% successors ready for promotion to some other positions. The other 20% of successors will be provided as soon as candidates have been considered to higher management level.

Succession planning is usually based on the assumptions that:

A goal is to identify a talent pool of many people who are willing to be considered for promotion and work to be developed for it.

The future may not be like the past, and the competencies required at each level may be different in the future so that merely "cloning" past leaders is not appropriate.

Development occurs primarily on the job rather than by off-the-job training experiences. (William J. Rothwell, 2007)

Why succession planning matters?

Some people question whether it's worth to spend time and money on succession planning. They argue that if many people lose their jobs, and they do not possess qualified skills and experiences, which are important to when they are evaluated, it shall be not difficult to look for satisfied substitution. Managers can easily choose someone who is better qualified to the positions. If some employees work well in the work, which indicates they may become the high potential candidates instead of succession planning.

But that thought is not true. The people who leave their work do not perform perfectly to the people who are substituted as retirements or job growth. For example, when people transfer from one position to a different industry, how many workers leave from information technology can become accountants?

The fact is that organizations need succession planning whenever in good and bad situations. Organizations should consider the future; they should plan for change in the future. Competition for the talents is tend to be more and more intense, just rely on the external human resources will delay the development of organization. They should focus on the internal human resources planning to maximize the advantage of company's value.

Succession planning is critical to the business because the high-potential employees will become the managers of the company in the future. They will be the decisive factor of their companies. This is why they need to be provided with opportunities to learn widely in organizations. These candidates should also be trained to widen their experiences to look into the necessary demand or job so that they can get a good understands of what they are expected to be.

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Another reason it's important is the candidates recognized in the plan will be finally responsible to assuring the organization is capable of meeting challenges. These "future leaders" must be attentively chosen and then offered training and developmental strategies that enable them to gain experiences and qualification needed for future requirements of company. (Tom Bartridge, 2005)

It helps to improve employees' commitment and retention, by given the opportunity to become high-potential leaders, employees will become more active in engaging the planning. They will work harder to achieve their own dreams about their career.

The world is changing fast; the knowledge is exploding every day, so as the marketing organizations face. What is important today may become inferior next month. Organizations will be in trouble without plans for future change. To meet the responding flexibly to change, a succession plan is necessary.

Succession planning does not belong to big companies only. Small business like family-owned firms also needs it. Succession planning is an important component of any business' strategy process. Family-owned firms make 80% to 90% of all United States business, yet only 3% of all family businesses survive beyond the third generation. Succession planning will aid the business owners in preparing for the time when they arrive retire, addressing extreme matters such as illness or death, securing the survival of the business through the transition of ownership, maximizing the return of the retiring owner's investment and minimizing tax burden at transfer.

Succession planning process

Now let's look at one of the most famous business leaders, Jack Welch, who started his working at General Electric in 1960. As he raised his position in the organization he displayed leadership qualities that distinguished him from his colleagues. What did Jack Welch think about succession planning?

His strategy was successful. He became the CEO of GE in 1984 and worked at this position until he retired in 2000. The most impressive impression is that famous statement, "From now on, choosing my successor is the most important decision I'll make. It occupies a considerable amount of thought almost every day." That's a very strong statement for someone who owns the prospective and leadership competency to increase the value of General Electric from $13 billion to $410 billion dollars during his tenure.

It's important to know that succession planning and development of potential candidates does not exist lonely. It runs through the organization. Everything in the future is related to it, it needs to affects the tactics of organizations. To carry out succession plans efficiently, organizations should take some key factors.

The succession planning must be supported and implemented by the higher level manager to make sure there's a powerful hand to keep it moving.

To consider about future, managers should make sure what kind of skills will be useful to organization in next few years.

Keep observing the candidates who are the most ready to become senior managers.

Analyze the current employees and recognize who will be qualified to retirement in next few years. Especially the important position, these positions must be recognized and embedded in the succession planning program. That' why the manager should take proactive processes to make sure the company has enough backup resource to prepare for the future.

Succession planning should be treated as part of an overall Human Resources program. Employees' duty of HR department is not only about training, recruiting, promotion and performance appraisal. How to better implement succession planning is a big part of their job.

Communication is a critical factor in succession planning. Manager should always meet to discuss about how the program goes. On the other hand, managers will talk to their employees about this program. How they feel about the succession planning and what should they do to better serve employees to get promoted.

To help employees better replace some higher positions. Decision makers will try to identify requirements about skill, responsibilities and competencies. Sometimes employees are used to where they are and what they should do in this position. They may get confused when promoted to higher position because of lacking enough knowledge about the position.

A system to receive feedback of employees should be established. Managers would adjust program based on these feedback and do something do to encourage candidates.

Succession planning is not a simple program that can be executed easily. A high-level teamwork is needed to implement it. It's a complex system requiring lots of detail information and reasonable rules.

Ultimately, the succession plan belongs to the whole organization and Human Resource department is not responsible for all the program. Only by everyone in organization focus on it could it get enough attention.( Tom Bartridge, 2005)

Any succession planning will be organized to integrate all its components and emphasizes the internal development of existing employees in the organization. (Rothwell, 2005a)

Any succession planning will be organized to integrate all its components and emphasizes the internal development of existing employees in the organization. (Rothwell, 2005a)

A succession planning starts from preparation. The first priority in the preparation is deciding members of succession planning team. This group will determine the scope of the entire project by formulating how many levels of management will be concluded.

Here is an overview of the basic steps of the succession planning process:


Get commitment

Assess the organization.

Determine key positions.

Identify competencies for key positions.

Identify and assess candidates.

Create development plans.

Measure, monitor, report, and revise.


A succession planning starts from preparation. The first priority in the preparation is deciding members of succession planning team. This group will determine the scope of the entire project by formulating how many levels of management will be concluded.

Get commitment

To run a succession planning, all levels of employees should be noticed. Everyone in organization should have a good understanding about this plan. They must know what to do to make sure this plan go well. (William J. Rothwell, 2007)

Assess the organization

During this step, constitutors should assess current problems and practices or organization, what's situation around organization and analyze the strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) of organization. What's more, they will analyze present work requirements and individual performance to get overview of organization.

Determine key positions.

Decisions makers should analyze the "gaps" by determining current supply and anticipated demand. They should check whether the positions arrangement is reasonable and what modification should be done to make the operation more efficient. At the same time, future conditions should be considered, whether the organization needs some new positions to meet the changes in the future.

Identify competencies for key positions.

In this stage decision makers identify core competencies and technical competency requirements of those key positions, they focus on the organization's strategic objectives and the skills or requirements need to realize those objectives. At the same time, they will identify the future work requirements and individual potential. The future is not the same with past. Decisions makers should instill into every management level. Different levels have different. Working descriptions and requirements should be finished in this step to better identify key positions.

Identify and assess candidates.

Firstly, HR audits develop a pool of high potential candidates based on the requirements of positions, and then managers identify some high potential successors and their developmental needs. After observing their working for periods of time, their supervisors will evaluate those potentials. The candidates for promotion to higher management level should be evaluated against the background of situation. Employees who want promotion are working hard and active to get a change to promote their positions. A person's competency and skill is changing as he is improved. Wonderful performance in the past won't ensure they will give better performance in future. Decision makers should find impersonal ways to analyze what's kind of performance the candidates will appear in the future or at different management.

Create development plans

To better help candidates improve themselves to make them qualified to the higher level positions; organizations should create development plans for them. This step focuses on closing developmental gaps found by previous step. To make this step run successfully, managers should set up different development plan for different employee to eliminate gaps between what level employees are located now and how can they do in future do make sure they will be qualified to the higher positions.

An individual development plan is like an agreement. It always comes to terms between an employee and his manager. Candidates are inspired to take advantages of resources to enable them to gain necessary knowledge and the competencies to do their job successfully in the future. Those resources may consist of training and orientation and activities both inside and outside of organizatin. (William J. Rothwell, 2007)

Different plans apply to different level, job and function. Candidates should be given opportunities to express themselves. Not just tell them what to do, let them deal with problems by themselves to train them how to be a manager in the future.

Measure, monitor, report, and revise

The consequences of a succession planning program can be monitored by comparing the plan with the goals set for the plan in step B. By tracking selections from talent pools, listening to leader feedback on success of internal talent and internal hires, analyzing satisfaction surveys from customers, employees, and stakeholders and assessing response to changing requirements and needs.

E. How succession planning works in hospitality

Average turnover rate in hospitality industry ranges between 50-400% for employees and 25-200% for managers annually. It's pretty high when compared to other industries. For instance, in the electronics industry (well- known for its high turnover) the rate of turnover is only about 27%. High turnover rate is accompanied by high turnover cost; hotels have to spend a lot of money on recruiting new employees and managers, not to say the lose results from vacancies before the new candidates are selected.

The profound changes that have occurred in the hospitality industry and the implications of these changes have affected the ways the hospitality industry hires, develops, and retains employees. It is critical for any hotels to pay attention on the aspect of hospitality human resources: managing the organization's human capital and retaining its professional employees.

There are many departments in a hotel to satisfy different demands of customers. For example, front desk, food and wine, housekeeping and finance department they are all necessary to a hotel and any of them fail to operate properly will interrupt the integral organization. To avoid this kind of human resource crisis, succession planning is necessary to hospitality industry.

A good succession planning in a hotel should develop different plans for different departments. The function and work of each department is distinctive, so plans makers should focus on each department's characteristic. When designing the talent pool for each department, decision makers should not forget the cross training. Cross training can provide hotels human resource backup to prepare for the peak season.


Succession planning is not something a good company can ignore because the consequences of not being prepared to replace key personnel will have a major impact on an organization's ability to achieve its goals and strategic targets. The succession planning process needs to be considered as part of the company's strategic planning process because it deals with projecting future changes by anticipating management vacancies and then determining how to meet these challenges. (William J. Rothwell, 2007)

When it comes to hospitality people have to talk about the employees. Employees are the most important part of hotels' operation. They have the strongest effects on customers who decide the success or failure of hotels. A succession planning is here to provide hotels with continuous talent pool to keep hotels run successfully and progressive.

Succession planning should be approached with same conscientious objectives that one would benefit the management of any valuable asset. Retirement fund assets are invested in different vehicles depending upon an individual's appetite for risk. Investment yields are tracked. Investment strategies are modified when results do not meet expectations. Retirement fund managers are kept or fired based on portfolio results. Succession planning efforts should be managed similarly. Create a strict structure to gather assessment information, articulate goals, track progress and evaluate results. In this context, the people who should be at the top of your organization in the future will emerge as stars. (Richard Houston, 2007)