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What Reaction Should We Expect From Employees When We Launch Succession Planning?

Senior executives at our midsize organization believe it's time to begin succession planning. How do we explain the potential impact to employees, including the effect on career development? —New to the Game, finance/insurance/real estate, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
February 28, 2012
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Related Topics: Change Management, Review, Succession Planning, Succession Planning, Dear Workforce
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Dear New to the Game:

Congratulations on deciding to implement a succession plan. Having the support of your executive team means the battle is already half-won.

From a change-management perspective, here are some things to consider:

Concisely articulate the goals of your succession planning. The three main high-level goals I see most often are:

• For employees: increased support for career and talent development.

• For managers: access to a wider internal talent pool.

• For the company: greater chance of business continuity.

People should be told upfront that inclusion on the successor list, or being considered key talent, is neither a guarantee nor a mark of elite status. Rather, it is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee. The employer commits to the employee's career growth, while the employee in turn makes a similar commitment to perform well and to "own" his or her professional development. The last thing you want from succession planning is to create an entitlement attitude among the people you want to retain.

With respect to training, be sure to include information about the goals and process of succession planning in your new-employee orientation. This will help familiarize new managers and employees with the program and its purposes.

Once you finalize the draft of your objectives and process, hold focus groups with employees and managers to get their reactions. You don't need to incorporate all this feedback, but it will help inform your change management and communications.

In terms of the succession-planning process, use a "nine-box" analysis to evaluate people in your talent reviews. This is a process whereby groups of managers review each employee and assign one of three ratings based on two scales: sustained performance and potential/learning agility. Once ratings are assigned, all employees can be plotted on a three-by-three grid.

Also:

• Utilize a three-step process during your talent reviews.

• Evaluate your talent (i.e., nine box).

• Determine development requirements.

• Map people's talent to job "benches," based on the results of the first two steps.

• Don't skip the second step. Otherwise, you will be unable to provide employees with differentiated development opportunities.

Clearly define your nine-box dimensions (e.g., sustained performance vs. potential/learning agility). Potential is often a confusing topic for managers. Thus clear definition of the terms should help a great deal.

SOURCE: Andy Rice, Black Box Consulting, San Francisco

LEARN MORE: There's There's a right way and a wrong way to set up succession planning.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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