It is Back – the war on talent! The challenge to find and build a great team. Unemployment is reaching new lows, and for now, this economy is rockin’. While that is good news, it means for those of us in leadership positions, finding, developing and retaining top talent can be tough.
When finding, developing and retaining top talent is tough, succession planning can be damn near impossible. At a time when we have a record number of baby boomer leaders leaving and retiring from the workforce, we are woefully short on experienced leaders to take their place.
In the past, succession planning was something that was nice for a company to have, a bonus for those organizations that could afford the extra training and development. However, today, if you are not growing your own talent, if you are not developing your next level leaders, then you are going to find yourself on the losing end of the War on Talent!
Understand in this economy the only thing that is differentiating you from your competition is the level of talent you have working for you. Think about it; there is not one single product or service you offer that your competitors do not already offer, couldn’t offer or won’t offer.
In an economy where customers can buy products or services anywhere, any time and from anybody; it is the service, and the experience that your customers are looking for, that is what they are willing to pay for. So controlling the customer experience, and building your reputation is one hundred percent dependent on the level of talent you have in your organization.
“ The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” ~ Harvey S. Firestone.
Now here is the good news, as the leader, owner or person-in-charge you are in control of the talent you have in your organization, and the depth of succession planning you have in place. All you have to do is make it happen. Wanting a succession plan and building one are not the same things. Here are five innovative succession-planning strategies to get you started:
Five Strategies For Innovative Succession Planning
Own it – Make it your job, as the leader, to develop talent and create a succession plan. All too often talent development and succession planning are delegated to the role of human resources or middle management. While both of those departments need to be involved, if you want Succession Planning to happen in your business, then you need to make it your priority. Take ownership and understand that what you place value on in your organization is what will happen.
Know What You Need – When it comes to talent and succession planning, you need to know what and who you need. You do not need to fill positions; you need to fill positions with people who are the right fit and bring the right value to your organization. Before you start your succession plan, you need to take inventory – what talent do you have, what do you need, what new skill would add value? (source.)
Graph It – The most important part of succession planning is about ensuring you promote and develop the right people. And to establish the right people you need to define what “the right” person is for your business. Jack Welch – the legendary leader of General Electric – used to use a powerful graph to determine who the right people are.
On the left side of the graph, Jack (yes I am going to call him Jack) he lists values. The values for his company, and what he wants in his leaders. On top of the graph, he puts the production, meaning the level to which they help the company achieve their goals. The A’s – share the values and are productive; The B’s are productive but lack the values; C’s share your values but struggle to produce, and D’s well you have to wonder what you are doing employing them at all. (source– Jack Welch)
Graphing your employees ensures you are building your succession plan with team members who share your values and are productive. This is key to ensuring your succession plan is promoting the right leaders.
Develop it – Once you know whom you are going develop, you need to begin to train them. Meaning you must devote in finding out what skills they need, and then provide the training to ensure they get them. This will take time, money and resources, so you need to be prepared to invest. Seems risky right? What will it cost? What if they leave? Remember, if you commit to strong talent development and succession plan, no matter who stays or goes in your organization, you will always get back more than you invest.
Own It – Last but not least; you again have to “Own It”. A succession plan is not something that you start and stop; it is an ongoing process. A continuous process that you must own! As the leader, the one who is placing value on this process, your team needs to see you engaged, involved and actively participating. If they believe it matters to you, it will matter to them.
In today’s marketplace, there is no better investment of your time and energy than talent development and succession planning. If you are looking for an innovative way to stand out from your competition, then invest in these five strategies to build your succession plan.