Ready or Not? The Missing Piece in Succession Planning

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By: Meredith Masse

I am still asking the question because I am genuinely interested in understanding how organizations decide who is ready or could be ready for that next level leadership role. We talk often to organizations about their succession planning efforts and always want to know how they are assessing and preparing their talent to fill future needs within the organization.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we still find that most organizations don’t have an objective way to gauge employees’ readiness for next-level management and leadership roles.

That is, until now.

Thanks to our partnership with our friends at Pinsight, we now have the secret recipe for measuring readiness! When looking at your pool of talent in succession planning conversations, use these four metrics for assessing employees’ readiness:

Current Skills: What skills do employees possess that can help them transition into higher levels of responsibility? While we certainly don’t want to make the mistake of relying solely on current performance data, knowing that the next role will require different competencies, it’s important to look at current skills that can easily translate into the next level position.

Motivation: Which employees are highly motivated to move into management and leadership roles and which are motivated to learn new skills that are required at the next level? The first step here, as simple as it may sound, is having a conversation and actually asking them, “Do you want to manage people?”. The key is also making sure it is okay for them to say no thank you and then work with them to plot another career path that will allow them to grow and develop without having to step into a role requiring them to be responsible for the care and feeding of direct reports.

Learning Agility: To what extent can your pool of talent learn the new skills necessary for roles of higher responsibility? Take this very important step to measure whether or not employees can learn new skills period. Measuring their learning agility is an essential factor in the process of deciding who can be developed to fill critical roles within the organization.

Ease of Development: How easy or difficult are the skills necessary for the higher level management and leadership roles to develop? We know from the research that Pinsight has conducted that planning and organizing work is slightly easier to develop than, say, critical thinking and decision-making skills. When we know the skills employees have developed already then measure where they are on skills necessary for promotion, we will have a much easier time of gauging what skills still need to be developed and how long it will take when intentional attention is paid to training and coaching on those new competencies and behaviors.

The guessing game is now over as is the idea of “playing favorites” when we use these four essential factors to address the readiness question during succession planning conversations. What additional elements do you consider within your own organization? We would love to have your comments below.

 

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