Making a success of
This is an article I recently wrote for Talent Management Magazine (www.talentmgt.com.) It will appear in their February issue.
For succession planning to be successful, companies need to
establish a succession planning culture that is a bottom-up activity. Managers,
technical gurus, sales stars, key executive assistants all play vital and
valuable roles that without an effective hand-off of knowledge and
relationships taking place, will lead to a significant lag-time - the
equivalent of "corporate dead air."
Smart companies need to focus, on putting into place a protocol
for high value individuals to ensure a succession ready environment.
A top ten list for succeeding at succession looks like this:
10 - Picking a timeline - orienting an individual into a
successor's role takes time - at minimum a 12 month window gives both parties
the opportunity to transfer knowledge and manage relationships
9 - Choosing possible successors - starting with a short
list: who works well with the organization, who are the emerging stars, is
there a likely candidate or an unlikely
candidate we are missing?
8 - Narrowing the list - everyone on the list should be interviewed
to discern their interest and eligibility. Some may gracefully decline, while
others will feel honored to be asked. Everyone needs to know there are other
candidates so that no one is considered a sure thing.
7 - Getting buy-in - Discussions in both directions will
help with the decision making. What is HR's responsibility? What do managers
higher up in the organization think?
6 - Planning- What are the development needs of the
potential successor? Is there technical training that needs to take place? An
executive MBA that needs to be conquered? Don't forget the soft skills as well.
5 - Succession by walking around - Shadowing the successee
can be the most valuable means of imparting knowledge. "learn from the master"
go on the sales calls, take minutes at the Board of directors meetings, be part
of the vice president's budget meetings.
4 - capture learnings - on paper, on tape, on video - often
what is most important are the stories. This is the corporate history that
needs to be captured. Listening to the old war stories will transfer valuable
knowledge for building the future.
3 - doing a test drive - assuming that things have gone well
(if not see point 9 above) it is time for a role reversal and some on the job experience.
While our successee is perhaps completing a part of their new success plan, our
successor needs to step in and fly solo.
2 - handing off - Come the day, the hand off should be
smooth with roles functioning as prescribed.
1 - evaluating - Don't forget to lead a session on the
process. What worked, what improvements need to be implemented and most
importantly who's your successor!