Programs: Five Generations

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In my consulting practice, I have discovered that many decision-makers in

organizations that possess no SP&M program would like to leap in a single

bound from no program to a state-of-the-art program. That is rarely possible

or realistic. It makes about as much sense as trying to accelerate an automobile

from a standing stop to 100 miles per hour in one second.

It makes much more sense to think in terms of a phased-in roll-out. The

basis for this roll-out approach is my view that organizations go through a life

cycle of development as they implement SP&M programs. At each generation,

they gain sophistication about what to do, how to do it, and why it is worth

doing.

The first generation of SP&M is a simple replacement plan for the CEO.

This is easiest to sell if the organization does not have such a plan, since most

CEOs realize what might happen to their organizations if they are suddenly

incapacitated. (See Exhibit 3-3.) The target of the SP&M program in the first

generation is the CEO only, and involving the CEO ensures that he or she

(text continues on page 66)

Exhibit 3-1. Characteristics of Effective Succession Planning and Management Programs

Characteristics of Effective Succession

Planning Programs

Does Your Organization’s

Succession Planning

Program Have This

Characteristic?

How Important Do You Believe

This Characteristic to Be

for an Effective Succession

Planning Program?

How Your Organization:

Not at

All Important

Very

Important

Yes No

123456

(Mean Response)

A Tied the succession planning program

to the organizational strategic

plans?

89% 11% 4.89

B Tied the succession planning program

to individual career plans? 56% 44% 4.00

C Tied the succession planning program

to training programs? 67% 33% 3.67

D Established measurable objectives

for program operation (such as number

of positions replaced per year)?

67% 33% 3.67

E Identified what groups are to be

served by the program, in priority

order?

33% 67% 3.44

F Established a written policy statement

to guide the program? 78% 22% 3.78

G Articulated a written philosophy

about the program? 78% 22% 3.67

H Established a program action plan? 100% 0% 4.56

I Established a

schedule of program

events based on the action plan? 67% 33% 4.22

J Fixed responsibility for organizational

oversight of the program? 89% 11% 4.00

K Fixed responsibility of each participant

in the program? 78% 22% 3.78

L Established incentives/rewards for

identified successors in the succession

planning program?

11% 89% 3.22

(continues)

Exhibit 3-1. (

continued)

Characteristics of Effective Succession

Planning Programs

Does Your Organization’s

Succession Planning

Program Have This

Characteristic?

How Important Do You Believe

This Characteristic to Be

for an Effective Succession

Planning Program?

How Your Organization:

Not at

All Important

Very

Important

Yes No

123456

(Mean Response)

M Established incentives/rewards for

managers with identified successors? 11% 89% 3.00

N Developed a means to budget for a

succession planning program? 56% 44% 4.00

O Devised means to keep records for

individuals who are designated as

successors?

56% 44% 3.78

P Created workshops to train management

employees about the succession

planning program?

33% 67% 4.00

Q Created workshops to train individuals

about career planning? 56% 44% 4.11

R Established a means to clarify present

position responsibilities? 100% 0% 4.00

S Established a means to clarify future

position responsibilities? 67% 33% 3.89

T Established a means to appraise individual

performance? 67% 33% 4.00

U Established a means to compare individual

skills to the requirements of

a future position?

44% 56% 3.89

V Established a way to review organizational

talent at least annually? 67% 33% 4.00

W Established a way to forecast future

talent needs? 67% 33% 3.89

X Established a way to plan for meeting

succession planning needs through

individual development plans?

56% 44% 3.89

Y Established a means to track development

activities and prepare successors

for eventual advancement?

44% 56% 3.89

Z Established a means to evaluate the

results of the succession planning

program?

44% 56% 3.89

Source: William J. Rothwell, Results of a 2004 Survey on Succession Planning and Management Practices. Unpublished survey results (University Park, Penn.: The Pennsylvania State University, 2004).

Exhibit 3-2. Assessment Questionnaire for Effective Succession Planning

and Management

Directions: Complete the following Assessment Questionnaire to determine how well

your organization is presently conducting SP&M. Read each item in the Questionnaire

below. Circle (Y) for Yes, (N/A) for Not Applicable, or an (N) for No in the left

column opposite each item. Spend about 15 minutes on the questionnaire. When

you finish, score and interpret the results using the instructions appearing at the end

of the Assessment Questionnaire. Then share your completed Questionnaire with

others in your organization. Use the Questionnaire as a starting point to determine

the need for a more systematic approach to SP&M in your organization.