Succession planning should be straightforward.
Surely it’s simply about assessing the needs of the business, based on the future strategy; identifying key roles and their requirements; matching these with the capabilities and potential of employees and then plugging any gaps with development programmes or tailored work experiences to prepare the right people accordingly?
It sounds easy enough but we see there as being two fundamental challenges that make this surprisingly difficult:
Identifying the right people
Embracing the changing talent market
Let’s take a look at the first: identifying the right people.
Within this challenge, there are two clear issues with which to grapple: how to identify people and what makes a person ‘right’. If we take the second issue first as that will dictate what we can look at for the first.
Many organisations use those with ‘potential’ as being those who are the ‘right’ people – but often do so without really having a clear definition of what ‘potential’ constitutes. Some companies express potential in ‘content’ terms, for example whether someone has particular skills or behaviours. Others look for evidence of possible ‘outcomes’, such as the ability to move up two pay grades in five years. The problem is, if you don’t determine exactly what you mean by potential, you’ll end up promoting the same ‘type’ of person. And that’s fine if your business isn’t changing. But if it is, you’ll need to look at the implications of your business strategy. What skills, competencies and behaviours will your leaders require in the future? Once you know that, you’ll have a better insight into what ‘potential’ really means for your senior roles.
Once you know what your definition of potential is and therefore who are the ‘right’ people to have your eye on and be part of your succession plan, you can start to look at how best to spot these in your organisation.
One way to do this is by re-purposing the information you already gain from your 360 degree feedback programme. Like some online 360s, Talent 360 lets you customise the 360 assessment itself so you are asking for feedback from specific groups of people on specific and relevant areas.
But it also allows you to flag the areas which identify potential – and that is very different to anything else on the market.
You may want to take a look at these two very short videos to see how our Head of Business Psychology, Debbie Hance reflects on this.
We’ll look at the second of these challenges in the next post - how succession planning needs to adapt to the change in how talented employees views their careers.