An effective succession planning process is essential to all organizations because they are always changing, and CEOs and executives can leave in a hurry. Replacing them can be a lengthy and frustrating process that often takes far longer than any board member might expect. Even companies with a formal succession planning process in place often find themselves unable to fill new roles effectively, moving new people into vacant positions only to find that the successors are not nearly as effective as their predecessors. Some new hires can’t get their teams on board. Others take far too long to build their side of the business. Why aren’t these companies getting the performance they expected from their plan?
To have an effective succession planning process, these companies need to build their succession plan based on the right data. They, very likely, ignored competencies or only slightly considered them before moving forward to creating a description that matched the person they thought they were seeking.
Often, what we believe makes a person a success in a particular position is not what makes her a success. If it is, it is only a small piece of the picture. Competency models help address these misperceptions and ensure that board members and other management teams have the complete picture necessary to replace key people in as little time as possible.
For an organization to build an effective succession planning process, planning and competencies must go hand in hand. Competency identification – the process of identifying the competencies that are essential for a particular job – is a good place to start. The skills sought during the identification process are the competencies that separate the best performers from the average performers across the same roles.
What is it that makes one payroll manager better than another? Why can that one IT technician repair a machine or design a network so much faster and more efficiently than the others on his team? Why does that one manager have the highest retention rates of any department in the company? When you can identify the differences between people in the same type of positions, you can start to build a competency model that shows which combination of competencies is most likely to result in success for that specific role.
This identification process can get complicated and time-consuming, but many software programs can help make it easier and faster. Talent management programs also exist to assist managers and executive boards with taking those models one step further by using them to compare existing employees against the models (called competency assessment). Management can then quickly identify the highest potential employees for any one key role, and move those high potentials into the succession plan, thereby ensuring plenty of time for training and overall development. By including competencies and competency models in the backbones of your succession plan, you dramatically increase the likelihood of success –for your successors, their team, and the company as a whole.