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Succession planning and talent management: helping those itching to climb the ladder make the best of each rung…

ID-100143741I’ve talked a lot about leadership and the different styles of managing teams, but there are always those in an organisation who are skilled at adapting and could slot into most teams or departments. Their ability to move and flourish makes climbing the career ladder easier, but how does this inflict on their colleagues?

The fallout of succession planning

For the team underneath them, the constant changing of leaders is bound to have a detrimental effect. Changes take a while to adjust to, and new leaders will each have their own style. Working through the Tuckman model, every time a new leader is appointed and new ground rules/boundaries introduced, the team is back to ‘forming’ all over again. It therefore takes even longer to get to the harmonious, progressive stage of ‘performing’.

That said, any rising talent within a corporation is something to hold on to – the danger being that an ambitious manager or executive feels their career is stalling and looks to another organisation for promotional opportunities – which not only means the loss of a promising executive, but still results in a new leader and change for the team beneath them.

Giving more options than just rapid succession

Having a good succession planning programme for the retention of key people is important, but sometimes, talent management doesn’t have to involve promotion. For example, furnishing the team leader/manager with stimulating work, and providing training and developmental initiatives may stall their upward climb. And incorporating rewards or bonuses from progressing the team as a whole, rather than their own achievements, is also an idea to help leaders feel more settled in the position they’re in, if their skills are better placed for that role.

Of course, if talent insists on moving on, or if their skills could be unequivocally be better used somewhere else in the organisation, it makes sense for a sidestep or a promotion. But if their sights are set on moving up the ladder quickly to prove themselves, departments may suffer in the long run if every manager’s just passing through.

ID-10033528Though new roles have been scarce due to the current economic climate, as the recession reportedly eases and jobs increase, and as global competition surges ahead, this urge to move on may be something we see more and more of – particularly as careers have been stagnating over the past few years. Executives wanting to make their mark haven’t had the same opportunity to exercise their ambition as they may do now, which could lead to a flurry of job shifts and changes across the board. Retention is therefore a contentious subject and ‘war of talent’ has become a critical business issue.

Career satisfaction isn’t the be all and end all

Recent research showed that executives are more likely to remain loyal to an organisation if they develop their employability and invest in their growth and training, which ultimately benefits the company. When interviewed, executives reported that more responsibility and challenging tasks were more important than career satisfaction. Having an attractive talent nurturing scheme in place, and focus on succession planning, can also attract ‘outsiders’, i.e. talent working for other corporations. Another consideration, until such schemes are in place, is to take advantage of existing external talent schemes, to recruit the most appropriately skilled and talented people.

It could be argued that companies have had to combat more important issues during the recession. However, as things begin to shift, this must surely be one topic that’s put back on the agenda. Ultimately, the company will benefit, from a high performance workplace. The other side of the coin is too much focus: ‘talent tunnel vision’ – which looks only at the here and now, with little concern for the future needs of the organisation.

As with any business initiative, planning is key. Understanding the attributes of each key person, in relation to the organisation as a whole, makes for good talent management. However, consideration should also be given to the teams around them, and what’s best for the company overall.

Coaching is an excellent way to nurture and retain talent; for an informal chat about your needs, contact me on 01302 220221.

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