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Succession Planning: The 2 Most Important Elements For Success

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Posted by Darleen DeRosa March 20, 2018

Sucession Planning

Having a pipeline of high-potential employees who can step up to different leadership positions in your company will have a significant impact on the long-term success of your business. For example, as noted in research by CEB/Gartner, “only 1 in 7 high performers have the critical motivation and behaviors to be considered a true HIPO [high-potential].” Having the skills necessary to complete a task is different from having the skills to oversee others as they complete tasks.

The question is: “how can you make sure that your succession management plan keeps your leadership pipeline full of high-potential employees who will excel in a leadership role?”

Here are two important elements of successful succession planning:

1. Identifying the Right People

One of the most important aspects of any succession management program is finding a steady supply of high-potential employees to fill your company’s mission-critical leadership roles. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that a high-performing employee is a high-potential leader. This leads many companies to put top performers into leadership roles that, frankly, they are not always prepared for.

Some measures that you can take to make sure you put the right people into your succession pipeline include:

    • Creating a Success Profile for Key Positions. The first step is to establish what “success” looks like for a given position. Consider which skills and behaviors are needed to maximize results for the role, and use these to form the basis of your assessment criteria.
    • Conducting An Assessment to Identify Those with Leadership Potential:

Leadership Assessments. Leadership assessments identify high-potential employees by measuring important metrics, such as learning agility, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. These assessments can also identify potential “derailers,” or characteristics and preferences that could disrupt effectiveness in a leadership role.

Behavioral Interviews. Conduct interviews to assess the employee’s experiences, goals, and past behaviors. This can prove critical for identifying a true “high-potential” leadership candidate.

360 Feedback. Collect feedback from peers, managers, and direct reports whenever possible. 360 feedback helps to provide a complete picture of the candidate’s potential as a leader.

Potential Inventory. A potential inventory (PI) is an assessment that is filled out by an employee’s manager. This assessment provides a future-focused look at the extent to which the employee has the potential to take on additional responsibility based on a variety of dimensions that are aligned with the role and predictive of high potential. 

2. Accelerating Development

After identifying high-potentials, it is important to set them up for success. Using the criteria established in the “success profile” and the information collected from the leadership assessments, you can identify skill gaps and customize the development each person receives to maximize your leadership development results.

As noted in another OnPoint article about leadership development, “Formal training programs account for as little as 10% of the learning that employees experience at work.” Research shows that the vast majority of employee learning and development is the result of “on the job” training (70%) as well as mentoring and coaching (20%).

Because of this, creating “on the job” learning opportunities for high-potential employees can have an enormous impact on their ability to prepare for a leadership role. These on-the-job training opportunities also help demonstrate how a specific skill can be important for work by creating a real-world example of the skill in action.

Finding ways to improve your succession management strategy can pay off in a big way for your company.

For example, consider AmeriGas. This company was struggling with finding the right people for its Area Director (AD) position, which was impacting the company’s performance as a whole. However, by developing and implementing a succession management strategy for that position, the company was able to improve revenues and productivity.

Learn more about how OnPoint Consulting helped AmeriGas by checking out the case study.

View Identifying and Developing Future Leaders Program Guide

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