about by automation. They’ll also
have to be adept at crisis management because social media allows
individuals to reveal a company’s
mistakes quickly and publicly.
Finally, they need the ability to
persuade the workforce to move
in diferent directions, she says.
Agree on a clear defnition of
a successful leader. Instead of
relying on job descriptions, build
a “success profle”: a one-page
outline of what competencies and skill sets are needed to
succeed. Interview leaders about what would make someone perform well in their roles. Otherwise, bias can creep
in when people don’t agree on who should be considered
“high-potential.” Leaders might choose their favorites to
replace them, even if those individuals don’t have the right
skills, Robinson says. Having a formal succession plan can
help create a more objective process.
Defne the goal and select the appropriate data to
use. The data can help identify skills gaps and growth
needs in your workforce so training programs can better
support individuals’ development.
Identify possible future leaders. Some employers prefer to avoid the term “high potential” because it can make
other employees feel inferior, Renz says. She recommends
categorizing workers as “early career,” “midcareer” and
“senior career” so you can plan development opportunities
that ft their specifc needs.
Keep it simple. Robinson isn’t a fan of the 9-box grid, a
tool commonly used to assess talent within organizations
and their readiness for promotion. The grid’s vertical columns indicate growth potential, and the horizontal rows
identify whether the employee is currently below, meeting
or exceeding performance expectations. Executives are
busy and will disengage if the process is too complicated.
She uses a simpler 4-box grid instead.
Develop an action plan. It should be visible, measurable and shared. Create development action plans for each
person in the high-potential, or “acceleration,” pool, Renz
says. You might use a rotational program to help employees
meet others in diferent departments. Pair each person
with a more senior mentor to encourage knowledge sharing. The action plan should help you decide where and how
to spend your time and money, she says.
Start small. Create a proposal, and include supporting
data to show executives how the succession plan will work
and how it will beneft the organization. Establish a pilot
program; that will allow you to refne the plan before it is
rolled out to the whole organization, Renz says.
Be transparent. Let employees know they are being
developed for higher-level positions. If you fail to give them
career development opportunities, they may feel ignored
and decide to leave, Robinson says.
Create a positive perception. The term “succession
Update the plan regularly.
plan” can have a negative connotation for employees if
they’ve only heard it used when someone is getting fred,
says Jenny Chalifoux, quality assurance and improvement
manager at Kings County Behavioral Health in Hanford,
Calif., who also works as a consultant. Help employees un-
derstand that a succession plan isn’t only about flling sud-
den gaps. “It’s also for the growth of the organization and
the opportunity for the staf who demonstrate dedication
and profciency,” Chalifoux says.
Have regular conversations with
leaders about their roles and
document any changes. Refresh
formal data once a year at a minimum. Share your progress and
challenges with leaders at least
quarterly, Renz advises.
In the end, a carefully crafted
succession plan will not only help
you prepare for the future, it will
also help you engage and retain
top performers in the present.
Dori Meinert is senior writer/editor
for HR Magazine.
protects the business from
unexpected changes that
could potentially hurt the
Only 43 percent of organizations had succession plans in 2016.
The positions included were:
Source: Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Human Capital Benchmarking Report.
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