Five steps to signing up an effective manager

As
the highs and the lows of the World Cup start to unfold, many of the
footballing bodies behind the teams will already be focusing on managerial
succession.

For
those who have used succession planning, it will be a relatively painless
exercise.

But
others could face the recruitment crisis Manchester United narrowly avoided
earlier this year when Sir Alex Ferguson decided not to retire after all.

Businesses
are no different. With population demographics on both sides of the Atlantic
starting to change as the baby boomers approach retirement, succession planning
is an urgent businesses issue.

Bill
Byham, chairman and CEO of Development Dimensions International, commented:
"We estimate 50 per cent of senior jobs within some organisations will be
open in the next five years."

But
succession planning is not solely about how you replace Alex Ferguson – or
Rupert Murdoch, for that matter.

It
can simply mean how you ensure your marketing department does not take its eye
off the ball when the director leaves in two years.

Getting
it right involves five key steps:

1.
Work out where you are going

The
business environment is becoming increasingly dynamic and fast moving, making
it much harder to plan ahead, said Ian Tinsley, senior director at Hay Group
UK.

"You
have to have a clear understanding about what is the name of the game over the
next two to three years. What does the strategy say? What are you hoping to
achieve? Have you got the core competencies to achieve that and have you got
the pool of people who will help meet those evolving needs?" he said.

2.
Decide what skills you need to deliver on future goals

Employers
need to work out the critical business roles within the organisation, and make
an assessment of the key talent. These might be the top performers, but they
might also be managers further down the scale who are doing a good job, said
Phil Probert, managing consultant for people and organisational change practice
at PA Consulting.

"It
is like a football team," added MaST’s leadership development specialist
Jeremy Webster. "If the people in it do not have the right skills, they do
not play. But the whole thing has to be geared to where the business is going,
not where it is now."

3.
Work out how to measure your current skills against those you will need in the
future

Accurate
assessment of the skills within your organisation is needed if succession
planning is not to be a waste of time. The methods will normally centre on
measuring an individual’s competencies and performance, both past and
predicted.

According
to DDI’s Byham, who is also the author of Grow Your Own Leaders, it is
important to look at four elements: job challenges, organisational knowledge,
competency to do the job and ‘derailers’.

Derailers,
he argued, are things that cause executives to fail, such as a certain
management style, psychological block, or something personal.

4.
Address gaps

The
greatest challenge for the HR director can be getting succession planning on
the board agenda and keeping it there.

"There
needs to be a strong HR person who can get this on the agenda. Someone who has
the weight to have this kind of debate with the senior management team is
critical. Life goes on, people forget about it," said Tinsley.

A
professional development strategy that targets key talent should be put in
place, claimed Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

5.
Maintain skills

Succession
planning needs to be an ongoing process and not a one-off reaction to a panic,
stressed Caroline Dunk, chairwoman of consultancy CDA. It is also important to
make sure key talent is not simply headhunted.

"Succession
planning is an area that is consistently done badly. It has been handled as a
standalone process, a one-off by the board that has no link into other HR or
competency processes. Often it is not integrated, accurate or strategic,"
she said.

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