Friday, November 12, 2010

Succession Planning needs a new conversation

In the October HR magazine.. Theresa Minton-Eversole reports that most companies are unprepared for succession at the top. Not to diminish her contribution, but this has been a common theme now for a good 15 years. Just pick through any of the management, human resource, or organizational development mags and you will find articles saying the same thing.

When we coach managers on correcting employee behavior, we tell them that when a pattern emerges of repeat behavior, the conversation needs to change. When an employee is continuously late, it is a different matter than when they have only been late once or twice. Well, the pattern around succession planning has been there 15 years... leaders worry about it and then ignore it. And although HR and OD experts have continuously spoken to the need for better succession planning, I am familiar with few organizations that are even doing a good job with just workforce planning. Just having a staffing plan seems to be a challenge to today's organizations and few if any, once they identify gaps are spending the resources to fully develop their next leaders.

So the question is, what needs to change in the conversation to get leaders to invest in leadership development. What will help today's executive and leaders come to understand that investing a little now in development will save lots later... you tell me.. I have an answer, but would love to hear your thoughts first?

1 comment:

Vince Verbeke said...

I'm not a manager at work (have no real desire thank you very much). But I've been a volunteer leader since my days in 4-H and FFA in the 1970's and still involved in local groups today almost 40 years later (scary that).

My thoughts are that if you are the "leader/manager" you should mentor and pick your "replacement" as soon as you are moved into the top spot. Don't just do the event/work by yourself, even if that is 'easier'.

Work in teams, appoint team leaders, allow them to make their choices, then support those choices. Foster success but allow for and expect failure. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Understand that in this decade there will be even more turnover/movement of people. The days of people like myself (long term employees/volunteers) is about done. In this era you need to expect that more rapid succession will be the new 'normal'.

"He's just an average player who has to play above average to hold his place."