What’s Your Formula for Succession Planning?
Succession planning is more of a process than an event. Invest in the process and the event becomes a time to celebrate the return on your investment.
Succession planning can be forced upon a company unexpectedly. Then leaders scramble…looking internally and externally for the best candidate available…as soon as possible! Rarely is it a good choice for the long term. The leadership challenge is to strategically plan for the succession of a key employee and the position s/he fills. Time is the critical word in order to anticipate this continuing need with intentionality rather than urgency.
A Seven Step Sequence
- Time to Revisit – Start by revisiting each of the steps in effective planning. Review strategybefore considering structureand finally end with decisions about staffing. This sequence is often done in reverse which is rarely effective. Strategy answers the questions: “where are we today…where do we want to go…and how will we get there?” Structure allows a review of the most effective configuration to align all resources in order to achieve the strategy.
Staffing is the final piece of the puzzle identifying “who” is needed in light of the updated strategy and structure.
Strategy + Structure + Staffing = Effective Succession Planning
- Identify Candidates – TheNine Box Grid allows teams to review internal candidates as part of a succession planning process. Leaders identify a small pool of candidates internally and/or come to the conclusion that they may also need to look outside the company. An internal and accelerated leadership development process provides a pipeline of candidates among current employees in light of anticipated succession planning needs.
Performance + Potential + Personal Drive = High Potentials
- Assess Competencies – 360 Assessment tools provide an opportunity to frame an objective picture of each candidate in terms of strengths, interpersonal skills, capacity for critical thinking, and specific work competencies needed for the position being filled.
Candidates + Assessment = Objectivity in Evaluation
- Leadership Development Plans – Planning well in advance for a future succession allows the time to work with a pool of potential internal candidates. Assessing competency gaps and designingLeadership Development Plans to address each of those gaps provides internal candidates an opportunity to maximize their leadership and work capacity in light of what will be needed in a potential new role.
Time + Learning Plan = Transformational Development
- Personal Coaching – Coaching each internal candidate provides the accountability to monitor, measure, and manage their progress toward developmental benchmarks. Narrowing the pool will ultimately come down to a consideration of the following selection issues: character, competence, and chemistry. Be certain the final candidates own the vision, mission, values, and strategy. Also, be sure they fully support the current leadership providing a preliminary indication of positive chemistry among the team. It can be expedient to ignore the chemistry of interpersonal relationships. Chemistry issues can quickly derail consistent focus on vision, mission, and strategy as well as the organization’s values which ultimately affect the culture and daily workplace climate for every employee. In other words, lack of chemistry is costly.
Plan + Coach + Accountability = Candidate Readiness
- Selection and Onboarding – Once the final decision is made…go the extra mile to be certain the new hire has the full endorsement and support of your team as well as the resources needed for success. Clarity regarding his/her responsibilities as well as the extent of his/her authority related to those responsibilities is crucial to sustainable success. Give the time needed to fully understand the broader context of the culture they are now part of.
Right Candidate + Resources = Succession Success
- Lifelong Learning – When the final candidate is selected s/he is just beginning the journey of learning to function at a higher level of leadership complexity. Provide ongoing professional growth opportunities and regular times to step away to work ontheir new role…not just in their role. Periodic seasons of personal coaching will accelerate the effective application of new learning in specific leadership competency growth areas.
Reflection + Application + Growth = Sustained Effectiveness
Seven steps that require time, intentionality, and planning. Have you discussed the key transitions that you already know are coming? What about the unexpected transitions that will blindside you without talent pools and leadership pipelines?
Formulas for Succession Planning was written by Dr. Dick Daniels, VP of Client Services with Right Management Florida and Caribbean. Dr. Daniels offers 19 years of leadership development consulting and executive coaching. Right Management is a Diamond Plus sponsor of the HR Florida Conference and Expo where Dr. Daniels will be speaking more on this topic during a concurrent session.