Ready Now! Does Succession Planning Backfire?

I get variations of this question a lot: if you focus on leadership and career development for your team, doesn’t this backfire for you as a leader?

Won’t that just cause people to leave for better opportunities?

Well yes, indeed it might.

When you have the opportunity to work with excellent people, they do great things, and they get great opportunities.

Sometimes these opportunities are about startingnew ventures or joining new groups. Sometimes they are about a chance to give back to the community. And sometimes they areopportunities to advance their career.

I would be misleading you if I were to say this is easy. It’s not, it’s very hard. But, in life, the hard right things are often the ones that pay off in the end.

You see, for each person in your team that leaves for a great opportunity, there is an even larger group watching. They are watching to see how those opportunities might apply to them.

We all know that developing great teams is not a once-in-a-career opportunity. It is an opportunity available to each of us every day.

There is greatness all around us waiting to be discovered and waiting to be given the opportunity to flourish. So, while change is hard for everyone and opportunity can be bittersweet, rest assured that succession planning only backfires if you define your career in the very short term.

When you set the leadership development process in motion, you create the opportunity for talent to impact you in bigger ways .

So keep building your leadership pipeline and a rich professional network, and open yourself up to making talent mobility part of your brand.

It’s worth it, I promise.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Succession Planning – Better Without the Ion?

Those of us who follow the Talent Management investment curves know that Performance Management and Succession Planning are 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. 

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. 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.

  1. Emergencies 
    In the unfortunate situation that something unexpected were to happen, having a well-established succession plan can help avoid additional disruption in the short-term. An excellent example has been given of Brokaw stepping in to fill the shoes of Tim Russert during the election.

  2. 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.


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Should You Tell Them?

Over the weekend while attending a Cabernet tasting event, I was talking with a friend and somehow (yes I know — this suggests I have no life OR maybe I’m just really excited about Talent Management) the topic of “top talent transparency” came up. Of course, we didn’t use those words, but it was the topic, nonetheless. 

When we talk about “top talent,” we tend to agonize along the following lines: 

  • If I tell someone that they are on “the list,” will their ego make me regret it?
  • What about those who are not on “the list,” will they be negatively impacted?

I’m going to risk it all with an opinion here, feel free to disagree (in comments or otherwise). I believe you should be willing to disclose this information to individuals. Why? Because they are going to find out anyway, so pretending to hide it will not solve your problems. By sharing this information, you can have a better chance of actually getting what you want from those individuals who you consider your top talent. In other words, by letting them know you consider them top talent you have a better opportunity to help them understand why, and as a result they can focus on the behaviors that make them critical to your organization. 

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother in the second grade after I was tested for the MGM program. The conversation went something like this:

Meg: How did I do?

Mom: I can’t tell you.

Meg: Why? I had to take a test today instead of getting to watch a film in the library with the rest of my class, what do you mean you won’t tell me how I did?

Mom: I’m told not to tell you because they are worried that by knowing the results it might cause you to act differently. 

Meg: Huh?!

Yes, there are risks with transparency, but at least those you can actively manage.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

If You Love Someone, Set Them Free

Yes, the topic today is “Talent Mobility.” 

But Meg, you say, Mark already covered this topic a few weeks ago. Yes, I know he did, but I’ve made a career out of repeating what Mark has to say, I don’t see why I should stop doing that now that I have a blog goal of an entry every week

So the question is, how do managers deal with the conflicting priorities of wanting to succeed against their own objectives vs. the goals of their team members for career development? Especially when the next career progression for an individual is not an opportunity that the manager has on their team? How does an HR group encourage the idea of individual career development if they have managers who are incented to hoard talent? 

One of the first problems to address is how you incent your managers. If their incentives are exclusively project based and not based on growing their people you are probably going to have limited success in driving the kind of employee engagement that we have been talking about here at TalentedApps.

Another key factor will be showing talent mobility as a core value. Are those managers who develop and share talent known in your organization? Does your organization see these managers as more valuable? They should. Managers who are able to develop and share talent are going to provide more long-term value to your company than those managers who are only concerned with their own personal objectives. In addition, those managers who are good at spreading talent across your organization are probably those managers who have a more effective network in the organization, certainly a more loyal one.

So, as you look to set your own objectives this January think about how putting opportunities for those who work for you ahead of opportunities for yourself. Not only does the golden rule tell you to do this, but in the end, you and your company will benefit more as a result. 

Also, consider thanking someone who was influential in your own career by helping you achieve your own career goals, especially when that involved being open to the idea of you working somewhere else if that was necessary. To that end, I would like to thank my last two bosses (you know who you are and are probably thrilled to have me mention you publicly) who have made personal sacrifices to help me grow professionally. This, in addition to having to put up with me as an employee, certainly disserves a good karmic return. 

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Managers, the Weak Link of a Talent Strategy

I’ve been noodling for some time on the role of managers in a talent strategy. Specifically, how they can seriously screw it up. Being a manager myself, I understand that I’m violating the glass house principle, but you know that hasn’t stopped me before.

Let’s take an easy example to prove my point. Let’s say that your goal as an organization is to develop and engage talent. Seems that as an HR organization, you would focus your energies on building individual development programs and follow up on employee engagement surveys, right?

Sure, but how does that actually work when you have managers who won’t let their teams attend the training? How does any program provided by HR break past this group that is clearly motivated to horde talent? 

I’ve long been pondering the idea that for any talent strategy to really work you must first address the pivotal role of manager and find a way to align a manager’s personal goals with the overall talent strategy. 

I would love to hear of cases where companies have been able to effectively make this happen. Ideas? Experiences?

This blog was originally posted to TalentedApps.