According to Deloitte, almost 9 out of 10 executives see leadership issues as the highest-priority issue overall—and, tellingly, only 14% of companies describe themselves as “strong” in succession planning
Our experience working with many companies who do so called “succession planning” is that there is something significantly flawed in the intention, process and application. There is frequently an assumption that leaders can identify talent and yet we often see that they are not as good at this as they imagine.
Sometimes there is unconscious bias that predisposes them to choose people:
- Like them
- They feel comfortable with
- Whom they have predetermined are ready to be promoted but have lost objectivity
You only need sit in a succession discussion to see this at work.
This is most obvious in what can be the intransigent, even pernicious challenge of selecting and retaining talented women (this phenomenon is widely researched).
If we accept that the practice of leadership is being challenged such as in the poor results of the Edelman Trust index, then something about the way we are planning succession isn’t as effective as it needs to be. Frequently we observe that the lack of visibility of potential leaders is no more than a lack of opportunity or encouragement to be visible.
Our view is that talent is everywhere. Our direct experience with clients suggests this strongly. Yet so much of it is missed or overlooked. If your methods for identifying and developing talent are inadequate, the means of selecting and promoting people become questionable.
We also see many Succession Plans that gather dust, particularly when development options are not implemented. Further, we are not confident that succession planning integrates performance and potential. However, there are some cautions in this process.
PERFORMANCE – ratings of performance are highly subjective and have been consistently shown to be more closely related to the relationship between employee and supervisor, than to actual job skills and results. Performance is also deeply affected by climate and culture; and both are predominantly driven by leadership behaviour.
Further, where performance is assessed as an outcome, overwhelmingly people perform at a satisfactory level. There are very few outliers either below expectation or outstanding.
POTENTIAL is therefore a critical differentiator. It is the potential for advancement to a higher level or broader role.
The compounding and appropriate weighting of performance and potential has been critical. While you may measure performance against KPI’s set each year and assessed from time to time, there needs to be a clear mechanism to measure a person’s potential, including both behaviour and attitude.
Successful talent management revolves around an overriding objective of assuring smooth leadership succession. Finding the right people with the right skills and experience in a shifting and complex environment is a great challenge.
The skill required is in the context of a perfect storm, where a talent shortage is evident in this sector and is set to deepen as experienced baby boomers leave their careers, alongside the rise of younger talent and the imperative to develop the skills of that talent as technology and work culture evolve.
In short there is mounting evidence of four practices that matter:
So, something needs to change.
Here’s how to do it. A more engaging, exciting and inclusive approach to capacity building. For discussion…
SPONSORED THINK TANKS OPEN TO INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE INTERESTED
Think tank sessions are run on a topic chosen by an executive (problem the business faces, a market opportunity, an operational issue) that requires creative input/experience/lateral thinking. No more than 14 people can participate. The executive responsible scopes the problem, sets the time and the invitation goes out to the business; first 14 in get the seats.
Outcome: increase knowledge of the business, increase visibility of the executive, peak people’s curiosity, bring in fresh thinking; the better the relationships, the more visible broad talent becomes.
LEADERS GETTING OUT OF THEIR OFFICES AND SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE
We all talk about this, but it doesn’t happen. This is a planned approach to increasing informal visibility of leaders. It is set as a KPI and requires all leaders to spend at least 1 week in 6 out and about visiting teams with no formal agenda – just to listen, learn, observe and connect
Outcome: increase the visibility of leaders to staff and vice versa; the greater the visibility the more varied skills become apparent.
Teams of staff nominate into learning pods of, say six. They can invite internal experts to come and talk to them about any subject they want to explore. They can also ask external experts to join, and targeted executive need to be visible, again meeting and observing people.
Outcome: give people control over their learning (senior leaders don’t know everything), make visible to leaders what people are interested in and why.
USE OF INTERNAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE IDEAS
Internal comms tells the business we are getting serious about collaboration, broad based talent and learning about real diversity as part of building our succession plan.
A MENTOR/MENTEE PROGRAM CROSS POLLINATING FUNCTIONS, POSSIBLE SELF-SELECTING
Staff have the opportunity to identify other areas of the business they want to learn about, and all leaders are coached on mentoring and taking on staff from across the business. A process is developed to capture insight about talent between leaders.
Outcome: leaders are sharing knowledge of emerging talent.
A STEP-UP PROGRAM THAT BUILDS JOB READINESS
- Filling leave positions
- Short term role rotation
- Filling acting positions
- Role step ups – secondments
SHADOWING EXEMPLAR LEADERS
All leaders accept a bi-monthly responsibility to have someone shadowing their work
Outcome: demonstrate to a broad range of staff what senior leaders do. Builds relationships.
DELIBERATELY CREATING EXPERIENCES OR SPECIFIC ASSIGNMENTS AND PROJECTS
e.g. solving a complex organisational problem
This is case study based.
Outcome: unleash a broader range of talent/creativity and collaboration; should be self-initiated/self-managed.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Download PDF Version” style=”custom” custom_background=”#5a90bc” custom_text=”#ffffff” shape=”square” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fjimgrant.com.au%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F02%2FCapacity-Building-versus-Talent-and-Succession-Planning-%E2%80%93-a-Shift-in-Thinking-Fabian-Dattner-Jim-Grant.pdf||target:%20_blank|”][stm_spacer height=”30″][vc_column_text]
Prepared by[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Jim Grant
Jim Grant & Associates
If a suitable time is not available please contact us for more options.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Book a call with Jim” style=”custom” custom_background=”#5a90bc” custom_text=”#ffffff” shape=”square” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fjimgrant.as.me%2F|||”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Fabian Dattner
Dattner Grant Pty Ltd