Effective succession management

consultancy DDI outlines its top 10 tips

DDI survey of more than 1,000 executives and HR professionals found that in
most cases organisations prefer to fill over two-thirds of senior leadership positions
from within. Over the years, working with 19,000 organisations worldwide, DDI
claims to have identified the most important drivers that provide effective
succession management.  Here is their
top 10:

Have an up-to-date-succession management system

individuals at an organisational level rather than being position specific;
then seek the best match of people to jobs as vacancies appear. Meaningful,
measurable goals should be set that are associated with tangible succession
management outcomes and people should be assigned to monitor the effectiveness
of systems through periodic reports.

Know all the high-potential people within an organisation

should be encouraged to look throughout their entire organisation for
candidates for accelerated development rather than rely solely on their
personal knowledge. Systems must be in place to find these employees –
particularly those who don’t typically interact with senior executives.
However, CEOs should get to know their organisations’ high-potential people
themselves as far as possible.

Have common standards across your organisation

organisations have set up systems to source exceptionally talented individuals
throughout their organisations, especially those working internationally.
Commonly accepted criteria around what constitutes high potential in an
individual needs to be agreed to help line managers and divisional HR
professionals to spot talent and create transparency in the system. A common
standard is needed which reflects the challenges inherent in both senior field
and corporate leadership assignments. It is important to give similar
recognition to previously unknown emergent leaders from newly-acquired segments
of the organisation.

Know that the best people are not always the ones who get the most meaningful
early assignments

all potential leaders have equal access to the choice job and development
assignments, or opportunities to take on significant responsibility early in their
careers, or the chance to hold highly visible positions. The evaluation of
individuals with high potential should be based on core, basic skills enhanced
by well-crafted evaluation to level out the playing field for all of an
organisation’s prospective leaders.

Treat candidates as individuals

individuals are identified as having high potential, their development needs
must be diagnosed so they can be given the unique experience and training
necessary to prepare them for success at high levels.

Ensure that development plans are implemented

a development-planning discussion would be combined with setting job objectives
at the start of each new assignment. 
Given their knowledge of the tasks they must accomplish, the timeframe
in which they will be expected to work and support they can anticipate from
above, individuals with high potential can realistically determine which of
their development needs can be met in their positions.  

Never assume that short-term issues are more important

best companies act on the belief that their organisation’s future lies in the
hands of the people they develop.  Many
are also driven to make time for succession management activities because they
believe that both their boards and the stock market are increasingly concerned
about the depth of talent in an organisation.

Know that diversity cannot be left to chance

a succession management system is in place, diversity goals must be set and
aggressively reinforced through the CEO’s actions. Leaders need to understand
that must communicate the organisation’s need for diversity, but their
involvement in planning and championing the development of those with high
potential sends a stronger message than can be conveyed by any speech.

Let people learn from their mistakes

a person makes a wrong decision it offers them an opportunity to learn from
mistakes.  Indeed fostering an
atmosphere where people can make mistakes and learn from the experience is an
important part of a successful management programme.

Remain patient

just as it takes time to build a client base or penetrate a new market, people
– even bright or talented people – need time to grow and develop.  Succession management is a multi-year
strategy that must be viewed long-term.


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