As numerous practitioners and academics point out, succession planning is more than just an event. The process revolves around an comprehensive strategy of maintaining and anticipating the optimal deployment for a firm’s human resources in the short and long term. More concretely, that means: finding the next generation of leadership talent, developing that talent and accurately matching that talent to a particular role. Each best practice listed is focused on one of these critical goals.
Best practice 1: Finding New Leadership Talent with Assessment Centers
Assessment centers are not a new invention. In fact, they’ve been used for the better part of 50 years to determine the talent levels and leadership capabilities of incoming recruits. However, they are also an important tool for discovering leadership qualities within a firm’s current ranks. While a recruitment assessment center focuses on more mundane tasks such as the classic “overflowing inbox” test, leadership assessment centers put high potentials into real-world situations that they’d likely experience. Here, test should revolve around scenarios such as dealing with a major environmental incident, negotiating a massive new contract, merger or acquisition for the business or determining funding for various R&D projects shortly after their inception. These type of scenarios provide quality insight into a candidate’s leadership potential, especially under high stress conditions. Assessment center design and implementation is unique to every business, learn more about it with this book.
Best practice 2: Developing New Leadership Talent with Talent Pools
Talent pools break up candidates that have been tested in assessment centers into varying degrees of potential or ability. There are no hard rules on how to design them, but they should help to develop a potential successor’s skills and leadership qualities. Furthermore, it is essential that talent pools reach lower levels of management as well. In this way, a firm can ensure that its young talent is not being lured away due to lack of challenges or upward potential.
Talent pools give members a chance to prove and hone their skills with a variety of stretch projects, special workshops or networking events. The concept is best explained with an example. In TreadCo, high potential middle brand managers are gathered into a talent pool. In a stretch project, far outside their normal duties, individuals are tasked with developing an innovation measurement system and using change management techniques to “sell” this system into the company. At the same time, assigned mentors help to provide feedback and guidance along the way. This stretch project gives the talent pool an opportunity to exercise their talents while profiting the company. At the same time, through a series of innovation and change management workshops, the talent pool can further develop its leadership skills. Talent pools are well documented and more information can be found in this book.
Best practice 3: Matching Talent and Roles with Succession Planning Templates
After general leadership skills have been developed, firms must rescan their talent pools to find the best matches for specific positions. This can be a daunting task, especially for firms with large numbers of employees. Keeping track of your position information and the required competencies as well as the potential candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in one location makes the process much easier. Here, succession planning templates provide a easy-to-use way to track all relevant information about, candidates, positions and competencies. Find out more here.