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SIDEBAR: 4 Elements of Effective Succession Planning

SIDEBAR: 4 Elements of Effective Succession Planning

By Bridget McCrea

In “What Does Your Succession Plan Look Like? (Part I),” we discussed why your company needs to start developing a succession plan today. Here, we share four elements that every distributor’s succession plan should include.



4 Elements of Effective Succession Planning

As a senior leadership consultant with recruiting and talent development firm Talent Plus, Inc., in Lincoln, Neb., Anne Manganaro works frequently with companies that want to do a better job with their own succession planning. Here are four elements that she tells all electrical distributors to consider when creating their own leadership pipelines:

  1. Look beyond performance to assess next-level potential. Ask questions like these – whatever a person’s specific expertise, these habits of thinking and action make success more likely at the next level of leadership:
    • Who asks great questions that push us beyond the status quo?
    • Who is always learning more and connecting new ideas to our overarching goals?
    • Who has the influence (even without formal authority) to advance ideas for making this work better?
    • Who has a knack for seeing what other people do well and positioning those people to succeed in the process of achieving bigger picture team goals?
    • Who do people naturally turn to for answers or advice or a listening ear?
    • Who do you implicitly trust?
    • Who elevates the game and the intensity of every other player when he or she walks onto the court?
    • Who manages change and conflict in ways that keep people focused on achievement?
  2. Identify about 15-30 percent of your total leadership cadre as “high potentials.” Make the number too small (5-10 percent) or too large (more than 35 percent) relative to your total population at any given level and your engagement and retention are likely to drop. “Just right” seems to be in the 15-30 percent range, with 25 percent being the average.
  3. Objectify the process.  Eliminate any succession process that relies solely on individual manager recommendations; decision by committee or consensus isn’t much better. “You need specific, objectively measurable criteria that define next-level leaders who are historically successful in your organization,” says Manganaro . “Then use multiple raters to evaluate each candidate relative to those criteria.” Use a validated assessment tool that measures potential to predict next-level leadership performance, she adds, and compare those results with real time performance data and look for convergence.
  4. Focus extra attention on high potentials, but develop everyone. Through this process, identify high potential candidates for succession at multiple levels. But you want to keep your high performers just as highly engaged as you keep your high potentials, Manganaro says, because career development is for everyone. “Understanding everyone’s strengths and investing appropriately in everyone’s growth can lead to higher engagement,” she notes, “and having leaders and managers who invest in people’s career development is highly correlated with higher levels of satisfaction and retention – it’s a virtuous cycle.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.


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