Good bench strength makes for good succession planning, and with baseball opening day upon us, we want you to hit it out of the park with your bench every time. Many companies over-simplify succession planning, relying on just an intuitive sense of who could move up when top leaders move on or retire. Good succession planning is a process within a system of excellent Talent Management, and when done well, it ensures long-term company growth. A solid succession planning process will help you identify, groom, and track high potential employees as they progress and advance. It is also a great retention strategy and helps improve morale. Succession planning gives your best employees a clear path to individual development, improves their capabilities, their engagement with the company, and often their performance too. Last but not least, it can save you money, as being able to move people up is less expensive than external hiring. Using some sports metaphors, here are our key tips to succession planning:
Go deep: Succession planning is not just for the CEO position or even just for first level management. Everyone who supervises others needs an identified successor.
Go long: Think of succession as a 3-5 year issue, not just in terms of immediate needs.
Batting Averages, RBIs: Create real metrics by tying performance appraisals to SMART objectives to ensure you can objectively quantify performance. In this way, you can rank people against others who might be competing to move up. Nice by-product: Everyone is motivated to be a top performer on the results that matter most to you.
Scouting: Assess all potential successors for: current skill set (matched against specific objectives), unused and underutilized skills, motivation and career goals, risk of departure, viability of training and development,
Utility Players: In baseball, an infielder can usually play 3 positions. Depending on the size of your company, your talent pool and approach to bench development needs to incorporate flexibility and adaptability. Establishing skills matrices and cross training for, and can help.
Triple-A League: Developing your people so that they will be ready to move up involves training, education, challenging assignments, mentoring, etc. A formal plan for each high potential person will enable them to be quickly called up to the major leagues.
Free-Agency: Assessing the risk of a key person’s departure is important. This relates to their fit for current position, performance, compensation, pace of advancement, market position (vulnerability to recruitment), etc. Many companies now routinely quantify these risk factors and assign a numerical risk rating to each person.
Home Run: If your team company has well-defined and well-prepared successors lined up for every supervisory and leadership role, each time someone “comes up to bat” – is called upon to move up – they will hit a home run, and your company will be at the top of the standings.