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We are preparing for a management off-site and the topic that people responded to and chose is succession planning. We're a service oriented unit of a large health insurer (we're the payment policy/rules development and implementation unit) with both internal and external customers.
We are also ripe for merger or acquisition.
I'm interested in planning a schedule for our one day off site and would love to hear your ideas on this topic.
Thanks,
Jerry

ctomasi's picture

I would also be interested in hearing some information on succession planning. Our company talks about it a lot. Beyond spotting hi-pots and coaching them accordingly I'm not sure what else I should be doing. I've got one contractor who has the experience to make a good replacement, but I don't have a place for him on the Engineering IT structure in FY07, however Corp IT is starving for staff so I steered him there in hopes there is a match. I have one direct report who is a bit young (and green) who has aspirations but it will take a few years to groom him to be a replacement. He needs a few more battle scars.

cwcollin's picture

...i'm also interested, as people are dropping like flies around my org.

I'm most interested in tools and logistics. How would you document your succession plan, what is are the key points to note?

Has anyone used hypothetical org charts that show your succession plan over time ( e.g. org chart at 6 mos, 12 mos etc...)

Mark's picture

We'll be releasing a succession planning basics cast/set of casts in the next 90 days.

How's that? :wink:

Mark

Jerry's picture

Great! I can't wait to hear it.
We found some standard articles to start us off.
For our offsite, we focused on four main tasks/discussions:
1. know your jobs/positions

We spent some time on trying to figure out how to document skills AND behaviors required for each particular direct of our own, then we had our peer managers document the same for our directs as we did it for their directs. Then we asked the current staff in the positions to document the same. We also documented "nice to have" skills/behaviors. In a nutshell, nice to have skills were differentiated from required by the fact that training could be used to obtain nice to have skills but required should come with the person to the job. Behaviors were a whole different ballgame. We're still discussing those. Hard to train behaviors we think... What do you guys think?

2. how do your get the right talent to begin with?

We spent some time discussing group interviews and peer interviews. Debriefs after with all, some behavioral interviewing skills, and using templates to ask each candidate the same basic things. We have incorporated a lot of scenarios/problem solving questions into our interviews.

3. identify high potentials

We're here now. The discussion right now is focused on whether or not the high potentials should be aware of the fact that they've been identified. And if they should know the others that have been identified in addition to themself, or should they only know about themself. What's the thought on this one?
We did agree that peer managers should have an opportunity to make suggestions to another manager on who they think is that manager's high potentials and why. What is the thought on that?

4. delegate, coach, and mentor high potentials

In our reading, we thought that delegation was a great first step for giving high potentials some more challenges and responsibility. We probably need to learn more about coaching and mentoring before we get to discuss this one. Any suggestions? We've listened to the podcasts on coaching. I don't think I've seen one yet on mentoring. Is there one? If not any suggestions for reading?
Thanks.
Jerry

Mark's picture

Jerry-

Thanks for the great note.

This is one aspect of Manager Tools that is so frustrating for us. Of course I do all kinds of work in succession planning, and with enough time I could give you all kinds of details and suggestions. I simply don't have the bandwidth, and I sometimes hesitate to share part of my thoughts, because they just leave more questions.

At the risk of too much candor, here are my thoughts:

1. I don't think the skills/behavior analysis NOW, at any level of detail, is the way to go. What you're getting into there leads to stagnation. Skills and behaviors are nice...but HR often ends up owning them, jobs change too fast, you're probably looking at people than really analyzing a job (whole 'nother conversation)...and none of it really matters.

May I ask, was there an HR person in the discussion?

2. Glad you're incorporating interviewing. There's more to be said there, but sounds like you have a plan.

3. IF you have hi potentials, of course they need to be notified. What I have found, though, is that if you do have hipots, they tend to override everything else. Nothing wrong with that (though it's not my recommendation), just recognize management bandwidth will likely always be gobbled up by them, and the coaching for so many others will suffer. Seen this a hundred times.

4. We will be releasing a cast on how to BE a mentor, but to be honest, mentoring - when it's from the org - is usually pretty short lived. For hipots, probably fine, but don't expect the world. I could be wrong.

You're doing a lot of good things that will help!

I favor a simpler way: ask each manager to look at their own job, create development plans for those they think might be good, share those with others, and meet regularly with the leadership team to talk about all jobs and their success in the development plans. The whole key is holding managers accountable for the directs' development, and it takes a committed leader.

This is the shortest, lamest answer I've ever given on this topic!

Mark

tplummer's picture

I agree with your hipot comment. All of a sudden they get special treatment. Hipot lists are compared against award lists, ratings and rankings, promotions, etc. "If this person is a hipot, why aren't they in the top 20% this year?" Because they have hi POTENTIAL which doesn't always translate to high PERFORMANCE every year. I always thought that was messed up. And, we have a high performance list (hiperf) and they are less valuable than hipots! Sometimes I think HR and upper management has some magic hipot formula that they won't share with us. Frustrated.

Tom

jess's picture

I realize that this is two years ago... was there ever a pod cast devoted to succession planning? I couldn't find it if there was.

This is becoming an area of increased focus in our company and I'm looking for some MT background on an approach to this. I'm meeting with HR next week to discuss the company's approach.

I like this approach:

[quote]
I favor a simpler way: ask each manager to look at their own job, create development plans for those they think might be good, share those with others, and meet regularly with the leadership team to talk about all jobs and their success in the development plans. The whole key is holding managers accountable for the directs' development, and it takes a committed leader.
[/quote]

and would like to hear more details.

jjohnson's picture

Me too! I am meeting with the President, Executive VP and two other VP's on next generation planning. I would love to hear some more on this topic. Although, all of the other podcasts have already helped me a ton. I am always curious on a good plan for transition and what is the key.

To me, it is a bunch of coaching and allowing the potential next generation the opportunity to develop a team. A team the promotes the individual into that position and not some superficial plan that no one really agrees with and one that ultimately creates only positional power without professional relationships. Can you say runon sentence?

Any additional thoughts?

sbaleno's picture

[quote="jess"]I realize that this is two years ago... was there ever a pod cast devoted to succession planning? I couldn't find it if there was.
[/quote]

The Retention podcast might be a good start and touches on Succession Planning.

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/04/retention/

jess's picture

Thanks for the pointer, I'll give the cast a listen tomorrow. I took a quick look at the premium content and this is certainly useful information for the implementation of the successor development plan. I have some questions on successor development, but I'll hold those until after I listen to this cast.

Let me throw out something that I would like some discussion on.

I already know, based on their capabilities and interest who in my group I would consider for succession planning. In this case, I have more than one possible candidate. So, the question I have (and I will be discussing with HR about our company's approach) should there be a single identified successor for my position (as opposed to developing more than one staff member for my job)?

US101's picture

You don't have to use coaching, feedback, or training to develop the hipos.

Another way companies develop a team of hipos is to give them an action learning project, where they have to deliver a real result and development is a by-product because the goal is a real stretch. This is called results-based action learning.

For example, at my company a team has the goal of winning 88 customers in 80 days by 8/8/08. In order to achieve that goal there is all kinds of learning and coming up with new work processes. So development is a no-brainer, it's baked in.

igniz's picture

[quote="US101"]You don't have to use coaching, feedback, or training to develop the hipos.

Another way companies develop a team of hipos is to give them an action learning project, where they have to deliver a real result and development is a by-product because the goal is a real stretch. This is called results-based action learning.

For example, at my company a team has the goal of winning 88 customers in 80 days by 8/8/08. In order to achieve that goal there is all kinds of learning and coming up with new work processes. So development is a no-brainer, it's baked in.[/quote]

i agree with these, give them objectives that you see is feasible enough, to optimize each hipos. And if the project fails: review the whole project for future project case study.

AManagerTool's picture
jjohnson's picture

Hooray!

I was just promoted yesterday to a Senior Associate and Member. I have been listening since April and I have learned alot about why things happen from Mark and Mike. Thanks, guys!

Even with this promotion, I don't specifically have directs yet, but I'm working on it. I have been responsible for running different teams that aren't always the same. One thing you have taught me is that because of this inconsistency, it is more difficult to get things working smoothly right away and there is a silver back gorilla moment with some people when you have to all of a sudden start directing them. Change is ugly!

The other thing that I have noticed with this promotion is that big ugly sign on your chest that says BOSS! Several people have made comments about the fact that the other people didn't deserve their promotions (4 other people were promoted) and that they are better than the others promoted. I'm working on just chillin' out for a while and then I'll start 1on1's. I have been giving feedback and running meetings very organized, efficient and last but not least effective with holding people accountable for their tasks. WWW and Tala has been very successful for me and the teams as they define future behaviors they would like to see.

Anyway, I am really excited about this and can't wait to tell you more as it develops.

jhack's picture

Good to hear!

I've found that when one is effective, congenial, and collaborative, folks resent the promotions less. Keep up the good work!

John