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Succession Planning Critical As Recovery Begins: Findings of Global Consulting Group

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC®) asked its global membership to evaluate the importance of succession planning in time of recovery, with reduced work forces and key people having been through tumultuous times.

"It's like to be overlooked," says SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD, "but our people have found that their best clients are focused on the long term, not merely quick recovery, and succession planning is critical in that strategy."

Here are some representative opinions:

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management firm in San Francisco, California Maynard specializes in selection and assessment, succession planning, executive coaching and emotional intelligence-based leadership development. He offers a few insights:

The quality of leadership at every level has a huge impact on everyday operations, and it determines every worker's level of engagement People who have the right talent can accelerate their growth as long as each new job assignment helps them build their core capabilities and acquire new ones, provided they're given timely and precise feedback. Taking a pro-active approach to succession planning that incorporates these four imperatives is vital to an organization's enduring success"

  1. Align Competency Models with Business Strategy

    What competencies must people exhibit to move the business forward today and in the foreseeable future?

  2. Identify Critical Positions

    Succession planning is not only for the top levels in the organization. In defining your succession planning strategy, identify your most important positions.

  3. Assess Current Talent

    Understanding the makeup of your current talent pool is critical. The goal is to evaluate the target group on a performance vs. potential matrix to pinpoint your talent pool.

  4. Career Development

    Many organizations create a succession plan, yet fail to develop, grow or retain the talent they have targeted. Communicate critical competencies for current and future roles. Provide growth opportunities such as job rotation, mentoring, education or skill-building activities. Identify opportunities for leaders to practice skills they will need in future roles.

    Gary W. Patterson, president and CEO of FiscalDoctor™, offers these tips:

    You've probably heard the axiom, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." Well, in business, it is more realistic to say "If you don't know where you're going, you're going nowhere." Planning, in other words, is essential to business success.

    He suggests a fiscal vision to better identify what skill sets and experience the business will need to meet its future goals as part of talent identification and development.

    A "fiscal vision" comprises the decision maker's motivating factors, recognition of resources obtainable for finance, human resources, operations, and systems, and a critical review of your current business model.

During these times when people regularly change employers, succession planning systems need to be holistic and not just about a specific individual being groomed for a specific job. Wise companies think about all key jobs and all talented employees. Dr. Karen Wilson-Starks, President and CEO of TRANSLEADERSHIP, INC., an executive leadership development company in Colorado Springs, identifies five main succession planning tasks:

  1. Think about your organization's future direction. What strategies, innovations, and objectives will you pursue to achieve your desired business results?
  2. Identify the competencies and jobs needed to achieve those future plans. Some jobs may not exist yet, some may no longer be needed to accomplish the future vision, and others will be radically redefined. 
  3. Create a culture of development. A culture of development is one where each person has the opportunity to be fully developed to the level of their potential. Focus on skills, abilities, and competencies needed for the future. 
  4. Develop your people through challenging job assignments, customized leadership education, and participation on special task forces, committees, or other strategic opportunities. 
  5. Create a pool of talented leaders for a pool of potential jobs. Identify all jobs for which an individual leader might be considered in the future. Also, list multiple individuals for each key role.

Weiss concludes, "We've seen that organizations which look at recovery in terms of both short and long term needs tend to outperform all others. You can't just look at tomorrow or next year. You have to look at the next generation of leadership."

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