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Succession Planning: The 2 Most Important Elements For Success

Posted by Darleen DeRosa July 18, 2019


Creating 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. 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?”

The answer lies within two critical, yet simple, concepts.

The Two Most Important Elements For Success

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.

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. 

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

  • 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.

In reality, most of an employee’s learning occurs outside of a formal training setting. Research shows that the vast majority of employee learning and development is the result of “on the job” training (70 percent) as well as mentoring and coaching (20 percent).

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. This on-the-job training also demonstrates how a specific skill can be important for work by creating a real-world example of the skill in action.

For example, consider AmeriGas. The 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 with OnPoint Consulting for that position, the company was able to improve revenues and productivity.

Finding ways to improve your succession management strategy can pay off in a big way for your company. Be sure to stay aware of pitfalls and holes in your pipeline. Build succession plan roadmaps that look ahead for a variety of scenarios and obstacles. Setting up new leadership for success allows your business to follow suit.

Identifying and Developing Future Leaders

Topics: succession management, succession planning steps

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