Article: Why succession planning is crucial for retaining talent

Talent Management

Why succession planning is crucial for retaining talent

Nivedita Nanda, the Country Director of People & Culture at ISS India, emphasises the importance of a structured approach to employee development and retention.
Why succession planning is crucial for retaining talent

For Nivedita Nanda, Country Director of People & Culture ISS India, succession planning is the key to retaining talent in the organisation. Nivedita who spent six years as a flight lieutenant with the Indian Air Force from 1993 to 1999 and transitioned to corporate life in 2003, says that employee development and retention strategies necessitate a structured methodology.

The Mumbai-based leader says that contrary to the defence sector, the time an employee spends in any one organisation in the corporate world is very short. Hence, people leaders need to adopt a different strategy than the Defence Services. “It is important to identify the specific skills and competencies that employees need to succeed in their roles and contribute effectively to the organisation.”

“Encourage and support ongoing learning and development among employees. This can involve providing access to online courses, workshops, seminars, and other educational resources that enable employees to acquire new knowledge and skills relevant to their roles.”

Nivedita advocates creating clear career paths and advancement opportunities within the organisation to motivate employees and provide them with a sense of direction and purpose. She also shares insights on transitioning from military to corporate life, the unique advantages military veterans bring to the business world, and strategies for fostering a resilient, motivated workforce. Here is an edited excerpt of the interview:

What inspired you to transition from the Air Force to a corporate environment? What were the most challenging aspects, and how did you overcome them?

 It was a deeply personal choice. I cherished my time in the Indian Air Force, rising to Flight Lieutenant. After I left Forces and pursued my MBA, eager to transition into the corporate sphere. However, challenges arose from the outset of my job search. The corporate landscape seemed hesitant to recognise or value my military background, while I, in turn, was unwilling to settle for entry-level positions. It took time to convey to recruiters that I possessed managerial experience, having led teams during my service. I persevered, eventually securing a role as Regional Manager HR at Praxair. From there, my journey in the corporate world began.

How advantageous it is to have military veterans in the corporate world?

The presence of military veterans in the corporate world offers numerous benefits. Specifically, their leadership style, teamwork, integrity, and most notably, resilience stands out. Military service demands resilience in confronting adversity and uncertainty. Veterans carry this resilience into the corporate sphere, empowering them to navigate challenges and setbacks with steadfast determination and composure.

The diverse skills, experiences, dedication to one's work, self-respect and values that military veterans bring to the corporate world make them valuable assets in any organisation. Transitioning to a corporate environment can allow individuals to leverage these skills in new ways.

In defence, assessing the potential and capabilities of personnel is critical. How do you apply similar assessments in the corporate hiring process?"

In the military, there exists an evaluation known as OLQ (Officers Like Qualities), which is conducted through Assessment Centers. It's worth noting that the Assessment Center concept emerged after World War II to identify and prepare soldiers for combat duties. The corporate world has since adopted this approach for various purposes.  By employing a comprehensive approach to assessing candidates' potential and capabilities during the hiring process, organisations can ensure they select individuals who not only have the necessary skills and qualifications but also possess the potential to grow and excel in their roles over time.

Retention is as crucial as recruitment. How do you apply principles from your Air Force experience to retain key personnel in your company?

My experience in the Air Force instilled in me a passion for my work, emphasised the importance of teamwork, and fostered a sense of camaraderie. I've always advocated for cultivating a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and connected to their colleagues, which can significantly enhance job satisfaction and retention. Building an inclusive organisation is crucial in achieving this goal.

The ability to adapt to change is essential in both military and business environments. How do you prepare your workforce for organisational changes, and what role does HR play in smoothing these transitions?

First of all, engaging employees in the change process by soliciting their input, involving them in decision-making where appropriate, and empowering them to contribute to the success of the changes can increase buy-in and commitment.

Also, open and transparent communication about the impending changes is crucial. Employees should be informed about the reasons behind the changes, the expected timeline, and how it will impact them personally and professionally.

 HR plays a critical role in smoothing these transitions. HR professionals can collaborate with organisational leaders to develop comprehensive change management strategies that address the needs of employees and minimise resistance.

HR plays a key role in fostering employee engagement throughout the change process by facilitating opportunities for dialogue, soliciting feedback, and recognising and rewarding employees who embrace the changes.

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Topics: Talent Management, Strategic HR, Talent Acquisition, #HRCommunity

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