We all know that senior colleague who earned their position by virtue of being around a long time, and not because they are particularly great at the job in question.
The ones who hedge their survival on buying the boss a Teh Tarik or two every week.
If this sounds tired and outdated, it’s because it is.
For thousands of years, we made choices about one another on the basis of physical attributes. If you wanted to construct a temple, fight a war, or harvest a crop, you chose the fittest, healthiest, strongest people you could find. Those attributes were easy to assess, and, despite their growing irrelevance, we still unconsciously look for them: Fortune 500 CEOs are on average 2.5 inches taller than the average American, and the statistics on military leaders and country presidents are similar.
This morphed in the 20th century when IQ—verbal, analytical, mathematical, and logical cleverness—was justifiably seen as an important factor in hiring processes, especially for white-collar roles, with standardised tests and educational results used as measures. The trend then shifted towards competency testing in which candidates were evaluated on specific characteristics and skills that helped predict outstanding performance in the roles for which they were being hired. Research also showed that emotional intelligence was even more important than IQ when it came to leadership roles. This is still largely practised today, and as a direct result, advancement can all too often be procured by virtue of simply mastering the art of tea drinking, brown-nosing.
Today, the focus must shift on succession planning by gauging potential.
But now, we enter a new era. Today, the focus must shift on succession planning by gauging potential. Competitive environments shift, a company’s strategy might change, fortunes ebb, jobs might require leaders to collaborate with or manage a different group of colleagues. So the question is not whether your company’s employees and leaders have the right skills; it’s whether they have the potential to learn new ones.
What qualities can we identify to measure the potential of employees we are grooming for succession?
Curiosity: a penchant for seeking out new experiences, knowledge, and candid feedback and an openness to learning and change
Insight: the ability to gather and make sense of information that suggests new possibilities
Engagement: a knack for using emotion and logic to communicate a persuasive vision and connect with people
Determination: the wherewithal to fight for difficult goals despite challenges and to bounce back from adversity
This is all well and good. But most companies need to first kick-start their succession planning initiatives. And this can seem daunting at first. Just where do you start? And how do you begin to make potential work for you? Here are 7 first steps.
It can take time to find and prepare a promising candidate for a leadership role. Even if you don’t think you’ll need a replacement in the near future, prepping someone to assume an important role creates an invaluable safety net
Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title.
Keep an open mind
The obvious successor may not always be the one who is second in command, don’t disregard other promising employees. Look for people who best display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title.
Make the vision known
Include potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills, as well as a broad vision of the organisation and its objectives.
Offer regular feedback to protégés
When someone uses well-honed presentation skills or outperforms on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens.
Provide training to peak performers
As you identify your top performers, offer mentoring relationships, job shadowing and training, which add true value and help them develop new skills and refine existing ones.
Do a trial run of your succession plan
A vacation is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume some responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.
Succession planning process can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts
Use your plan to develop a hiring strategy
Once you’ve identified internal employees as successors for key roles in your organisation, take note of any talent gaps. In this way, the succession planning process can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.
Identifying the potential of your future leaders can be further aided with a data-centred approach, free from personal bias, and is a great first step to charting your company’s succession planning roadmap. To learn how we can help, visit Accendo.