As the COVID-19 crisis continue, CMA can provide guidance on human resource best practices and answers to frequently asked questions. As an essential business, CMA continues operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our professionals are currently working remotely and following social distancing guidelines. If you need HR assistance, including guidance on hiring, furloughs, layoffs, return to work or other workforce concerns, contact us at 207.780.1125 or

Succession and Career Planning Part 1

Part 1 - Succession and Career Planning…..Important Even in a Double-Dip Recession!

By Valerie Mercer SPHR, Director of HR/Career Services Click here to listen...Has your organization ever promoted an employee to fill an unplanned opening, only to have them fail?

Does your organization have a plan in place for developing and retaining your key people?

During this economic downturn, when organizations have been focused on keeping their businesses afloat, development plans for individuals have taken a back seat. However, many employers today realize that, even with the poor economy, the top-performing and/or high-potential employees can be flight risks – some want to leave and some are being targeted by competitors! And companies recognize that these top performers often determine the long term success or failure of a business – certainly a catch 22.

While these top performers and high potentials may have been content to hunker down during the start of this downturn, many are becoming restless, and even disgruntled, and will jump when the time is right. Lack of opportunity for advancement is often one of the top 4 areas of discontentment in employee engagement surveys! And, statistically, while voluntary separations have trended downward, voluntary separations for top performers have trended up!

Only 20% of organizations have formal, transparent, succession planning systems in place! A talent management system that identifies, develops and (hopefully) retains top talent is key to managing top performers and high potentials. In the absence of a system, organizations fall prey to the cycle of “threaten to quit = offer of more $$ to stay” (a short term fix, if it works at all!).  A succession/career planning system is much more effective and actually creates a proactive management system, as opposed to a reaction mechanism! This approach can be complex and expensive or as simple as having regular, structured (more than 1X per year) performance/developmental discussions with key employees, and tracking the results. But this may be a challenge since many companies do not even have a successful performance review system in place!!

Next time:  Part 2 – Succession and Career Planning  –  the why and how?

 CMA can assist organizations in developing or refining their succession and career  planning systems.

Valerie Mercer is Director of HR/Career Services at Career Management Associates an HR consulting firm that specializes in Professional and Executive Search, HR Consulting and Services, Outplacement and Career Transition, Executive Coaching, and Contract Employment. Please contact her at or 207.780.112.