Thursday Thread: Succession Planning with a twist

A lot of companies and their leaders feel like they’ve been in a reactive state for 2 years: 2020 threw unexpected circumstances at us all; 2021 brought about the Great Resignation. There was little time to be proactive.

For those who are ready to be more proactive, 2022 can be the year of The Great Transition. We’ve entered a whole new game where the rules are (mostly) dictated by the employees.

One of our top tips for helping leaders master The Great Transition is a new spin on succession planning: involving your employees in the conversation. When approached correctly, succession planning can generate a two-way dialogue between employees and their managers about their future with the company.

So why should it be a key focus for 2022?

(1) You’ll eliminate a lot of guesswork. When you can look at your organization at large, you can determine what kind of development is required for your key roles. When the success metrics for each role are defined, it’s easier to understand the type of person who should fill that role and the development required. When you’re focused on sharpening the knowledge, skills and abilities for the future, you’re setting yourself up to have a strong bench to fill vacated and new roles.

(2) You’ll stop wasting your time playing jenga when you could be playing chess. You want people operating where they WANT to be operating. The vision of growth you have for your employee may not align with theirs. And while you it may not be possible to move them into their dream role right now, you can help them get one step closer. When employees can envision an enticing change that helps them get one step closer to a desired future, the grass starts to look a little greener where you are.

(3) You’re building trust. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Without trust, you aren’t having an honest dialogue anyway. And if you’re not gaining anything in those conversations, you’re wasting a lot of valuable time. Understanding who wants to go where starts a new kind of conversation. New conversations about a future with the organization can help to build trust between employees, their managers and the organization at large.

Sounds like a lot of work. We know. So while this may require the Great Reshuffle in your organization, it’s much better to play chess with pieces who already know the game.

Next week we’ll be sharing how to start having those conversations. Until then, take a look at your current succession plans. If your company doesn’t have any, start to think about your top 10% of key roles. What are the skills needed to fill those roles if the people in those seats left tomorrow?

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