Succession Plans and Employees – Are yours connected?

Transition and Succession Planning Session Output

More and more companies are embracing the concept of succession planning.  They are realizing the obvious benefits of identifying and developing employees who have a high potential to fill the organization’s key roles in the future.  When asked why they believe succession planning is important, subscribers will often say it is because it increases the availability of talented individuals to ensure the continued success of their organization.  But are they connecting their succession plans with their employees’ career aspirations?

Succession planning is too often a behind the scenes planning exercise.  Sometimes organizations do not want valued employees in key roles to feel that they are looking at replacing them.  Other times organizations fear that discussing future plans they have for some employees will create feelings of inequality and discontent amongst employees.  These organizations never speak of their succession plans outside of the closed-door management meetings where the plans are drafted.

Imagine you are one of the high potential employees identified for advancement.  Yes, you are aware that your employer has invested in some developmental opportunities, but you may think that these are a result of being managed by a good manager.   Are you aware how much the organization values your talent?  Are you aware of the future plans your employer may have in store for you?  Sadly, the answer is probably no.

Employers take for granted that employees know how valued they are.  This is a mistake.  Employees want to be explicitly told they are an asset to their employer.  Employees want to be able to envision their future within their organization.  An effective way to do this is to review the relevant part of the succession plan that affects each high potential employee so that each one is aware of their perceived value and importance to the organization.  Too often employees only discover their perceived worth after they have accepted another offer from another employer.

How do we avoid this?  By developing a comprehensive plan inclusive of communication, strategy, and follow-up.

Step One:              Meet with each employee to understand his or her interests, and career goals.

Step Two:              Compare and contrast employee’s individual career goals with their strengths and areas for development.

Step Three:           Compare and contrast the results of step two against the succession planning needs of your organization.  Identify the potential replacements for your key positions based on individual employee talent and interest.

Step Four:             Conduct a gap analysis of the skills needed for each key role and the current abilities of the individual(s) identified as potential replacements.  Use this information to develop learning plans, mentoring relationships, and career paths needed to be successful in the eventual key role.

Step Five:              Meet with each employee to discuss how you perceive their developmental opportunities.  Discuss proposed learning plans with each employee.  Explain the organization’s view of the individual’s potential and, based on initial input from step one, what areas the organization would like to see the employee strive to develop and what assistance the organization is going to offer.  Fine tune this plan with each employee.

Step Six:                Follow and monitor progress for the duration of the year.

On an annual basis, repeat steps one through six.

Following this process will enable organizations to recognize the talent of employees while they are employed with them and thereby decrease the turnover rate of high potential employees.  This will not only increase employee effectiveness, it will decrease the recruitment efforts required to win the war on talent. It will make your succession plans successful.

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