Thinking AHEAD
AHEAD’s September 2009 survey provided a useful market snapshot with 56% reporting that economic recovery was already underway. That’s in line with latest findings by the Chicago Booth Business School (p4). Six months later, and with recession officially behind us, we now see a game of two halves.

‘Encouragingly, some companies are already focussing on growth and are hiring systematically again,’ explains AHEAD’s Managing Partner Guy Vereecke. ‘But others still face challenging times and remain in a slippery situation with further job losses possible.’

So how are HEADWAY readers coping on the talent front? In our latest Spring survey1, over 60% confessed that they had lost good people with potential in the past year. Moreover over 90% recognise that to fuel their company’s future growth they will need to hire externally new talent with potential to climb the corporate ladder.

Meanwhile, some industry observers predict significant turnover at the top of companies in the year ahead, following a period of risk and aversion to change.  That said, 82% of CEOs and HR managers in our survey favoured bringing future top management into their company at sub-top level to acclimatise. Respondents highlighted a wide variety of sought-after personal attributes for those with potential for top positions, notably personal integrity, passion and great people skills.

82% favour bringing future top management in at sub-top level.

Although most (86%) agreed that succession plans should always be integrated with competency frameworks, many confirmed that over-reliance on competency frameworks can sometimes be limiting or too rigid. The majority recognises that succession planning is not only about organisational needs, but should balance the needs and aspirations of individuals too.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ‘today there is no one model for succession planning and there are no hard-and-fast rules.’
This was reflected in the breadth of readers’ recommendations simplified in the words of one CEO, ‘understand where the organisation is heading, and know your people ’.

1. CEOs, MDs, General Managers and HR Directors/Managers were surveyed electronically in early March. Responses from the first 100 reactions (63 HR, 37 GM) were analysed anonymously.

AHEAD is a leading search firm specialising in high achievers. Headquartered in Brussels, we were formerly YESS International Brussels, created in 1990 by Egon Zehnder International.  Today AHEAD forms part of the extensive network covering Europe and beyond.
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