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March 31, 2020

In today’s world, Talent Management plays a crucial role in managing important assets of an organization, which is its talent or people. Talented resources are hard to get. This is because talent is a combination of behaviors, skills, organizational fit, motivation and passion.

Talent fulfillment through succession planning and talent hunt through replacement hiring are two methodologies associated with Talent Management. We will be looking at Succession Planning and Replacement Hiring and how they are different from each other.

Replacement Hiring

  • It refers to hiring a resource as a replacement of an employee who has resigned and will be leaving the organization soon or has already left. Replacement hiring addresses talent needs of the organization, with the assumption that the organization’s structure will remain constant and will not change over time. Hence it is a faster process.
  • Replacement plans are prepared where “backups” are identified/ hired for all key contributing roles in a company.  Minimum one and maximum three backups are identified for each of the top-level positions.
  • Replacement plans should entail the necessary guidance that the identified people will require before they assume the new roles, as well as indicate the readiness of the backups to take up their designated roles, if and when needed.

This process provides guidance on how the important positions can be filled within a short span of time in case of emergencies. 

Succession Planning

“Succession planning should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information, knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”Anne M. Mulcahy (Former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation)

  • This approach focuses on training and developing employees continuously in a wholesome manner instead of just identifying them as replacements for crucial roles. It is targeted more on making the employees ready so that they can take charge anytime as needed. This ensures that the organization’s work and operational activities will continue irrespective of any situation. Maintaining continuity in business is important because it leads to cost reduction and less service disruptions and accelerates growth.
  • Employee succession planning is a process that focuses more on long-term goals. It is an initiative to improve existing talent in the organization which will help contribute and lead to the growth of the organization. It should be planned for all necessary roles at every level which are needed to keep the business running (For example, Mid-level managers, department heads and so on).
  • Whenever a vacancy is anticipated, for a seamless transition it is important that a succession plan is in place. This will be helpful as there will be already someone trained for that particular role, and this will result in smooth transition.
  • In case of succession planning, if required, new roles can be added, and identified employees can be trained for the same. 

Succession Planning vs Replacement Hiring?

  • Succession planning is a more systematic and planned method for filling up positions whereas replacement hiring is more instantaneous or ad-hoc and is done only when the need arises.
  • Succession planning and employee retention are closely related. Succession planning focuses more on training and development of identified resources. It has a more holistic approach towards filling up a position which leads to talent retention within the organization by providing career progression. Replacement hiring is just filling a position on short notice when a sudden need arises.
  • Therefore, succession planning seems to be a more proactive and effective approach. Some of its benefits are listed below:
    • Identifies potential candidates who are ambitious and can be honed into future leaders
    • Protects the organization from business and operational disruptions since multiple candidates are already identified and groomed
    • Acts as a motivational tool for attracting young, ambition-driven employees with a vision for career growth

Most importantly, is more cost-effective as compared to external hiring, which is a very expensive process and does not immediately generate revenue 

The Best Way Forward

When it comes to hiring and retaining talent, there is no “single” best way. It is definitely better to be prepared beforehand and continuously train the identified resources because an organization will be able to sustain for a long time successfully only if it has a strong talent base and ability to easily adapt to business environment changes.

This is why it is extremely important for organizations to focus on creating sturdy and reliable succession plans as well as replacement hiring plans so that no matter what the situation is, the transition is always seamless.

Sreemayee Bose is a Functional Consultant in Innovation and Product Engineering group within TCS Platform Solutions. She has been a part of multiple product engineering and build initiatives covering new functional modules, major product enhancements and innovations. She has also worked with various reputed clients and deployed HCM solutions for them. In her career of 9 years with TCS, she has worked as Developer and Technical Writer for TCS BaNCS. After working for almost 4 years, she completed her MBA in HR from ICFAI Mumbai (India) and rejoined TCS and since then she has been with TCS Platform Solutions.


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