Effective succession planning is going to involve strong goal alignment and robust performance management. One without the other is kind of like using a $.25 claw machine to do your succession planning. So, get out your quarters, or learn about the tools and practices that can help you build an effective succession planning model.
Succession planning is the process that leaders use to identify and develop internal talent with the goal of using them to fill key leadership positions within the organization. So, while gaging performance is crucial, it is equally as important to foster this talent, and ensure that their professional goals align with those of the organization.
It’s Called a Succession Plan for a Reason
Without a real strategy, you don’t actually have a succession plan. A real succession plan is an evergreen project – a living strategy with many moving parts. Currently, about 1/3 of companies have no succession plan in place for their key leadership roles. That’s a scary place to be. Here’s how to get started:
The Ground Work
Identify Key Leadership Positions
Identify key leadership roles that will be part of the planning. This will mean that one person, or a team, will propose which positions need succession planning, and they will then present this list to executives for evaluation. This list must be agreed upon before proceeding.
Create Living Profiles for Key Leadership Positions
Next, the succession planning team will create profiles for each one of these roles. These profiles will be living documents of the pivots, training, soft skills, hard skills and experience that this position has entailed. A good rule of thumb is to update these profiles as frequently as any changes happen. Loop executives in on these changing profiles and seek approval on a semi-regular basis. It will come in handy down the road…
Don’t want to bug the C-suite or the board? It’s their job! When survey respondents were asked what segment of the company was most involved with succession planning, obviously Human Resources came in first at 80%, followed by the C-suite at 61%, and the Board of Directors at 42%.
The Hard Part
Identify Potential Successors
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Until this point, this process has been pretty objective. Now for the hard part – choosing potential successors. Well, with the right tools, it really isn’t too bad. You are going to rely heavily on your performance management and your talent alignment platforms. The collaboration of performance management, goal alignment and succession planning are vital in creating an effective and truly strategic plan. Use the profiles you’ve created and cross-reference them against the mounds of performance data you’ve collected.
You might find (like many organizations that we’ve worked with) that your performance management isn’t asking questions or collecting relevant data that can help you connect these dots. If that’ s the case, work with your performance management team to work succession planning needs in with quarterly reviews.
Now, the very specific information that you need is a built-in part of a continuous and organized process. Profiles can now be seamlessly compared with performance reviews, to create the most accurate talent pools you can come by in succession planning.
Foster Potential Successors
The tough part here is keeping everyone moving toward the same goals, at the same time. This is why complete goal alignment is so crucial. The company goals, the goals of the position for which you’re planning, and the professional goals of the potential successor have to travel through time like a constellation.
A good goal alignment platform will keep micro and macro goals front and center on a daily basis. When a goal takes a pivot, everyone is in on the changes. Everyone, all the way up and down the ladder, can center themselves on goal transparency throughout the organization.
Now, Establishing Buy-In from Execs is Simple
The executives have already approved the positions and profiles for which the succession planning team is targeting. You now have data and documentation to ensure that the right employee has been fostered for their future role, and their qualifications are exactly in-line with the requirements of the position.
Note how all data and management practices must be working in tandem to achieve this succession planning ideal. In this instance, performance management, compensation, training and succession planning will all be the key elements that require transparency.
Beyond qualifications, complete goal alignment throughout the successor’s career establishes that their personal goals are a match for the organization. It’s not insanely difficult, but as the name suggests, it takes a great deal of planning. All of that planning is made easier with an optimal performance management system and goal alignment platform at hand.
Would you like to talk to someone about your succession planning needs? We’re here to help.
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Recruiting & Tools - Part 2
Onboarding - Part 3
Performance Management - Part 4
Compensation - Part 5