By: Shawna Simcik
Executives often think of succession planning as their right and duty. After all, who in the organization knows their role and direct reports better? Who can better pick successors that’d be rock-stars in their shoes?
As it turns out, this thinking is delusional and completely wrong. Here is why: 60% of newly promoted managers fail within their first year. The high stakes and politics associated with succession planning push objectivity aside. So executives end up promoting their buddies, top performers, or even bottom performers to minimize any threats to their own careers. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend calibrating managers on performance and potential ratings, or how well you facilitate talent reviews. So long as your assessment data comes from manager ratings, you have a big, hairy problem on your hands called subjectivity.
Why are organizations and executives still suffering from bad promotion decisions? It comes down to the same high stakes and politics – introducing objective assessments means limiting the executive’s control over succession decisions. And anytime you ask people to give up control, they resist, especially when their own career and job security are on the line.
Dr. Martin Lanik suggests a few ways on how you can convince your executives that data driven succession decisions are positive substitutes for their tightly guarded “right” of deciding who will fill their shoes.
Initially, executives may feel a sense of unfairness and threat when you ask them to base succession and promotion decisions on objective assessment data and not “their knowledge of their people.” Understand the situation and empathize with them. Make sure communication lines stay open. Fully explain how this new data-driven succession process works and what role they will play in it. When in doubt, always err on the side of over-communication.
- Accurate decisions are the best decisions.
It’s true – some executives make better succession decisions than others. But in large organizations, can’t tell who are the talented “people-readers”, nor can we clone them. That’s why we need a standardized, objective process. In fact, using objective data is proven to be something that separates companies from their competitors.
- Responsibilities are evolved, not removed.
We don’t have to take away an executive’s “right” to select his/her successor but rather supplement it with objective assessments. An assessment can tell which employees are ready for a promotion, and what areas to develop within those employees. The executive is still the final decision-maker in this process but there is a shift in responsibility from assessing employees’ performance and potential to actively preparing them for the next role.
Succession planning is critical to the long-term success of a business. Lack a succession plan, and your business lacks future. Although allowing data and not intuition to dictate succession planning can be a daunting concession for executives, it need not signify a loss of a right or represent a threat. It should represent an evolution of responsibilities to fit an ever-changing marketplace and provide a competitive advantage for your organization.
Interested in this topic?
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Blog courtesy of Dr. Martin Lanik, PinsightTM with excerpts from Shawna Simcik, President Business Leadership, ICC. Blog originally posted at www.pinsight.biz/resources