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Posts Tagged ‘succession planning’

To Talent Pools … and Beyond

Posted by Marcie Van Houten on November 5, 2010

If you’ve not been paying attention to the Succession Management process lately, you may have missed that many leading organizations are addressing their succession planning needs through talent pools.  Many don’t even create individual role based succession plans and rely solely on the talent pools to provide their up-and-coming talent.  So what are talent pools exactly and how do they differ from the more traditional succession plans?

Talent Pools are employees that are grouped together for a common promotion, job or leadership development purpose.  Some of the means of determining talent pool membership includes manager defined, 360 degree feedback and Talent Reviews.  HR typically helps drive leadership development curriculum appropriate for the group to help the talent pool meet the goals management has for it.  Some times the members are told they’re in the pool and other times it is kept more quiet.  Members are developed and if all goes well the talent pool becomes the primary place to source the talent from when the succession need comes up.  Unlike traditional succession plans, talent pools are not necessarily tied to a job or position or incumbent, but rather are a pool that is being developed and groomed for one to many jobs or career paths.

In the Toy Story movies, Buzz Lightyear has a favorite saying “To infinity … and beyond”.  To Buzz, it’s great to have the goal of reaching infinity, but it’s even better to aim for more.  More beyond the thinking of the day.  Talent Pools are a great way to achieve your succession and development needs.  However, there’s the possibility of so much more.  Let’s think beyond the basics here and strive for something more… something truly collaborative.  Let’s provide the talent pool members with tools to become a collaborative community.  Let’s provide them networking opportunities, collaboration spaces, and the ability to develop their community so that not only are they learning from the talent pool curriculum of training, experience and mentoring, they are also learning from each other and supporting each others’ growth.  These relationships they form could really help them become more successful down the road as their talent pool peers get placed into new roles.

While Talent Pool succession planning is a worthy objective, to reach beyond that goal to one where Talent Pools are versatile, collaborative and interactive places for learning, development and networking is truly the goal.  “To Infinity … and beyond”.  I like the way Buzz thinks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Succession Planning – better without the ion?

Posted by Meg Bear on November 18, 2008


Those of us who follow the Talent Management investment curves, know that Performance Management and Succession Planning are the hot trends right now. Companies are attempting to leverage their workforce as a competitive advantage and both of these areas had technology innovations in recent years.

Of course, as is often the case with trends, there are companies that have a plan first and leverage technology to solve it, and there are companies who start with a solution and attempt to figure out the problem.

This leads to many wanting to call into question the whole idea. Laurie is absolutely right that succession planning has some challenges and she gives some ideas how to make it an effective use of your time (my paraphrase).

Personally, I think that the point of succession planning is really not for succession at all. Most often C-suite changes are made when a company needs to “fix” something. When this is the case, companies will most likely want to look outside the four walls for new ideas.

Succession planning is useful in the case of a long known retirement (Gates, Welch, etc.). Of course, planned retirement-based successions are often exceptions, especially in North America. In an attempt to avoid having people throw out the baby with the bathwater I would like to suggest that you still need succession planning for two key reasons

  • Developing bench strength – In my mind, here is where the real value can be had. If you look at your succession initiative as a broader discussion about bench strength and development alignment, you can get a lot bigger ROI for the exercise. Using a succession discussion to analyze several layers of your organization against readiness, can help you build development plans, define workforce planning initiatives and bring to light top talent within your organization.

So for those who wonder what all the hype is in succession planning, I encourage you to take a longer view of the process than just the tactical (or the competitive) approach. Use this emerging trend to help you to provide more value to the strategic needs of the company. Don’t just plan for succession, plan for success.

Posted in hr, succession planning | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Building Applications That Help Grow Strong Leaders

Posted by Ken Klaus on April 29, 2008

Last week I had the opportunity to attend The Business of Talent conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Kudos to the team at Bersin & Associates for putting together a great conference.) One theme consistently discussed throughout the conference was the need to make leadership development a core part of your talent management strategy. Leadership development goes beyond just training and is equal in importance to recruiting, succession planning and performance management. Most talent management solutions provide applications that help companies to recruit, train, measure, and compensate their workforce. But few have incorporated leadership development as a core business process within the talent management suite; which is interesting since leadership development is generally considered a mission critical part of most business strategies. So the question is how can our talent management solutions help us achieve this critical objective?

First I think it’s important to understand that no software application by itself will ever find the leaders in your organization, let alone develop them (unless of course you have access to Deep Thought or Professor Farnsworth). This is a task for your managers, directors, and senior executives. I also subscribe to the idea that leadership is not tied to a specific role in the company, like manager, vice president or CEO. I think every employee is a potential leader and in my opinion the hallmark of a truly great company is having more leaders than managers, or better yet, just leaders and no managers! With that said, there are some tools your talent management applications ought to provide to assist your organization in identifying and growing your leadership pipeline.

  • First is a configurable profile management application. Profiles tell us everything we need to know about the person and the position. They help us assess whether we have the right people in the right job. Person profiles should include things like risk of loss, impact of loss, personal, professional and developmental goals as well as the skills (competencies) the employee has today. Job profiles include the key competencies, certifications, licenses, education requirements, etc. needed to succeed in the position. A good talent management solution will help you match each employee with the right position.
  • Second are integrated performance, learning and compensation management applications. Having performance management without learning management is like constructing a house with a yardstick and no hammer; why measure if you can’t build. Likewise, having a learning management application without performance management means you can train your employees but can’t measure their growth or level of accomplishment. Compensation helps you recognize and reward good performance; without it you have a stick (performance management) but no carrot and good employees won’t hang around for very long under those conditions.
  • Finally, the talent management suite should include robust analytic tools that aggregate and integrate your data across applications. These tools should help you calibrate performance and potential across the organization; identify risk of loss candidates; craft talent pools and succession plans; and create customized development objectives tied to the key business drivers for your organization.

Most companies believe the best leaders are grown rather than recruited. Individuals who grow up in the organization have already embraced the company’s culture and core values. They understand the business, the market place and most importantly the customer. All they really need is experience and an opportunity to lead. Mark Sanborn writes in You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader, “It doesn’t matter what your position is, or how long you’ve worked at your job, whether you help to run your family, a PTA committee, or a Fortune 1000 company. Anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them.” Our job as talent management specialists is to provide every employee with the opportunity to become the leaders who will help our organizations succeed and our companies thrive.

Posted in leadership, succession planning, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Cloning and the Art of Succession Planning

Posted by Ken Klaus on April 7, 2008

I caught an episode from season 2 of Futurama last week titled A Clone of My Own, thanks to a recent acquisition (by me, not Oracle), of a DVR player. In this episode Professor Farnsworth, the owner of an interplanetary delivery service and inventor extraordinaire, is celebrating his 150th birthday. During his party the professor laments, “There’s no one to carry on after I’m gone, no one to take care of my work and my research and my fabulous fortune. I’ve got to name a successor. There’s no time to lose. I’m off to my lab to build a successor-naming machine!” A potentially lucrative opportunity, for what pioneering software company worth its salt wouldn’t jump at the chance to acquire such an invention? Alas, after much time and effort the professor completes his machine only to discover that none of his employees are up to the job. So he does what any mad software vendor, er um, I mean scientific genius would do, he clones himself, resulting in much mayhem and hilarity.

Thankfully cloning isn’t an option for us average Joes. Unfortunately most of us don’t have access to a successor-naming machine either; but this does not mean we’re helpless when it comes to succession planning. We can start by identifying each of the key positions in the organization that drive our business and consider how the business would be impacted if someone working in one of these positions were to leave. Next, we can identify the high performers in each of these essential roles and create a profile of the attributes that make them successful. A good profile will include hard skills for job competencies, degrees, and certifications as well as soft skills like enthusiasm, creativity, flexibility, and perseverance. Once we have a strong profile definition we’re ready to find the high potential candidates who already fit the profile as well as those who are a close match and create individual development plans that will help each employee reach the next level.

Succession planning is a critical component for any talent management strategy and requires proactive rather than reactive timing; because looking for a successor after a person leaves puts the business at undue risk. Identifying critical positions in your organization, defining key profiles for these roles, locating high potential employees, and investing in development requires planning and commitment. And even if science could solve the problem of succession for us, I’m guessing it still wouldn’t work out the way we hoped; because as any fan of the sci-fi genre knows something always goes wrong – think Jurassic Park! But growing high potential employees into key roles is a safe and proven methodology for keeping your business strong and your employees happy.

Posted in engagement, goals | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »