Developing organizations with strategic Human Resources work

unsplash/Geert Pieters

Global trends and social change have an impact on different levels of the cultural enterprise. These effects or concrete needs for action and change are often the subject of acitor projects in the areas of organizational analysis and strategy development, among others. For example, digitization triggers changes in internal administrative processes and thus triggers a transformation process. Active HR work guided by strategy can play a central role in these processes. A concrete example of this is the HR tool of strategic succession planning.

By 1) identifying key positions that need to be filled soon, 2) determining the specific strategic relevance, and 3) defining competencies that will be important in the future for the specific position, succession planning becomes an instrument that positively supports transformation processes.

Key positions have a major impact on the development of an organization.
When backfilling positions, an organization should always consider its strategic goals. This is especially true for key positions, as these positions have a greater influence on the further development of the organization than other positions. In terms of the cultural enterprise, these can include not only management positions but also, for example, strategic staff positions and project management positions in the areas of cultural education and building projects. The specific need for replacements can be planned to some extent due to natural fluctuation such as retirement or parental leave - these positions will require special attention in the further process.

The relevance of key positions depends on the objective in the specific case
If the identified key positions for which a succession is to be planned are compared with the strategic objectives, the concrete relevance of the key position can be determined. Taking digitalization as an example, such an objective could be: "Our organization will be working paperless from 2025". All employees in the organization will be affected by this goal, but departments such as IT, purchasing and accounting with their respective department heads will take on central roles in this endeavor. How relevant a position actually is in relation to the strategy will always depend on the specific organization and its specific context.

For strategic staffing, important competencies will be in focus in the future
For the active shaping of the future and for the search for suitable applications, the focus is placed on competencies that will be important in the future. These are defined for the specific position and accompany the recruiting process, e.g., through the specific naming in the job posting and the examination of the competencies in the application process. Let's assume that the position of Head of IT needs to be filled: Competencies in the areas of digital strategy, virtual working, willingness to change and communication skills are concrete examples. In light of these competencies, which will be important in the future, the decision between internal and external backfilling should be carefully weighed.

Before implementing this HR tool, it is necessary to develop concrete future scenarios and conduct an organizational review. This holistic view of both the status quo of the organization and its future developments makes it possible to identify change potential and opportunities as well as competencies that will be important in the future. Once the parameters for HR work have been determined, strategic succession planning offers cultural institutions the opportunity to set a strategic course in the course of natural fluctuation, for example in the areas of diversity and inclusion, digitization, outreach, or visitor retention.

Other positive effects of careful succession planning are the retention of employees in the organization. This is because concrete development prospects can be identified, as well as shortened job vacancies and the resulting handovers and knowledge transfer. This in turn has a positive effect on the overall costs of a replacement.


An impulse contribution by Rhea Elbing, Consulting.

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