How Is a Mission Statement Prepared?

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Prepare a mission statement by using any one of at least three possible approaches:

‘‘Ask, formulate, and establish’’; ‘‘Recommend and listen’’; or ‘‘Facilitate

an interactive debate.’’ In the ‘‘Ask, formulate, and establish’’ approach,

someone takes an initial step by ‘‘asking’’ questions about succession planning

in the organization. That launches a dialog to establish the program mission.

Often that duty falls to human resource generalists, human resource development

specialists, or management development specialists, although others—

such as the CEO, a vice president of human resources, or a specially appointed

SP&M coordinator—could function as change champions to focus attention

on the need for change. As a second step, change champions should compile

the answers received from different decision-makers. They should then ‘‘formulate’’

and circulate a proposal based on those answers. As a third and final

step, decision-makers hammer out their own responses, using the proposal as

a starting point. In so doing, they establish a mission statement for an SP&M

program.

A key advantage of this approach is that it requires little initial effort from

busy top managers. Others undertake the groundbreaking work to collect information

about SP&M, compile it, and base recommendations on it. (That is

what officers in the armed services call ‘‘staff work.’’) On the other hand, a

key disadvantage of this approach is that executives do not participate in the

information-gathering process, so they will have no collective ownership in

the results. A subsequent step is thus required to capture their support and

thereby achieve consensus on the necessary actions to take.

The ‘‘Recommend and listen’’ approach is different. It relies on considerable

expertise by the HR generalists, HRD specialists, or management and leadership

development specialists. To use this approach, they must start out with

a thorough grasp of the organization’s culture, top management desires and

values, and state-of-the-art SP&M practices. From that perspective, they ‘‘recommend’’

a starting point for the program, providing their own initial answers

to the key questions about the program mission listed in Exhibit 6-3. They

prepare and circulate their recommendations for a systematic SP&M program,

usually in proposal form. They then ‘‘listen’’ to reactions from key decision-

Exhibit 6-3. A Worksheet to Formulate a Mission Statement for

Succession Planning and Management

Directions: Use this worksheet to help you formulate the mission of the succession

planning and management (SP&M) program in your organization. For each question

posed in the left column, write an answer in the right column. When you finish,

circulate the worksheet among decision-makers. Compile their responses and then

feed them back as a catalyst for subsequent decision making about the mission

statement of the succession planning and management program in the organization.

Add paper or questions appropriate to your organization as necessary.

Questions Answers

1. What is a key position?

2. What is the definition of a highpotential

(HiPo)?

3. What is the organization’s responsibility

in identifying HiPos, and what

should it be?

4. What is the definition of an exemplary

performer?

5. What is the organization’s responsibility

in identifying and rewarding

exemplary performers? What

should it be?

6. How should the organization fill key

positions?

7. What percentage of vacancies in

key positions should be filled from

within? From without? Handled

through other means?

8. What percentage of key positions

should have at least one identifiable

backup (successor)?

9. In what percentage of key positions

should there be holes (that is, no

designated successors)?

(continues)

Exhibit 6-3. (continued)

Questions Answers

10. What is the maximum time that exemplary

performers should remain

in their positions?

11. What should be the maximum allowable

percentage of avoidable

turnover among high-potentials?

Exemplary performers? What

should be done to reduce it?

12. What should be the maximum allowable

percentage of failures in

key positions after individual advancement?

13. What percentage of key positions

should be filled with employees

from legally protected labor

groups—such as women, minorities,

and the disabled?

14. How desirable are international assignments

for designated successors?

15. How should HiPos be prepared for

advancement?

16. What should be the role and responsibility

of each employee and

the HR Department in the process

of developing HiPos?

17. How much should individual career

goals be surfaced, considered, and

tracked in succession planning?

18. How openly should the organization

communicate with individuals

who are identified to be HiPos

about their status?

19. Write a draft mission statement for

the succession planning and management

program of the organization

in this space. Be sure to answer

these questions: (1) Why does the

program exist? (2) How does it contribute

to achieving the organization’s

mission and strategic plans?

and (3) What measurable outcomes

or results should be expected

from it?

makers, using the initial proposal as a catalyst to stimulate debate and discussion.

The advantage of this approach is that it usually has a shorter cycle time

than ‘‘Ask, formulate, and establish.’’ It also relies more heavily on expert information

about state-of-the-art SP&M practices outside the organization,

thereby avoiding a tendency to reinvent the wheel. But these advantages exist

only when those using the approach have a thorough grasp of the organization’s

current SP&M problems and practices, culture, decision-maker

preferences, and state-of-the-art practices. Otherwise, it can provoke timeconsuming

conflicts among decision-makers that will only prolong efforts to

achieve top-level consensus.

The most complex approach is to ‘‘Facilitate an interactive debate.’’ HR

generalists, HRD specialists, management and leadership development specialists,

or others function as group facilitators rather than as expert-consultants.

The first step is to prepare a forum for key decision-makers to carry out

an ‘‘interactive debate’’ about the SP&M program’s mission. While the forum’s

content may be dictated by the CEO—or even by members of the board of

directors—HR professionals set up the process for the debate. (Content refers

to the issues on which the forum will focus; process refers to the means by

which those issues will be examined.) That usually means that the CEO and

the HR professional (or the CEO and an external facilitator) must work closely

together to plot the best means by which to explore the most important succession

planning and management issues. Such a debate may take the form of

an off-site retreat lasting several days or several meetings spread across several

months. During the debate, top-level decision-makers work through numerous

small-group activities to clarify the mission, philosophy, and procedures

governing the SP&M program.

The second step is to summarize the results. Someone must prepare a

written statement that contains key points of agreement after the retreat or

after each meeting. That task usually falls to an HR professional or to an external

facilitator, who prepares a presentation or handout. However, the CEO

or other top-level decision-makers feed these key points back to the retreat

participants.

The third and final step is to conduct follow-up activities to ensure agreement.

Follow-up activities may be conducted in several ways. One way is to

hold a follow-up meeting with the participants to surface any points of confusion

or disagreement. This can be done in small groups (at the end of a retreat)

or individually with participants (after the retreat). Another way is to establish

a top-level committee to govern SP&M in the organization and/or at various

levels or locations of the organization.

An interactive debate does focus initial attention on key issues that should

be addressed to formulate a clear program mission statement. That is an advantage

of the approach. But it also requires much time and strong personal

involvement from the CEO and others. That is its chief disadvantage.

Writing Policy and Procedures

Why is the organization undertaking an SP&M program? What results are desired

from it? How can consistent program operations be ensured? Decisionmakers

may answer these questions by preparing written program policy and

procedures.

What Is a Succession Planning and Management Policy, and What Are

Succession Planning and Management Procedures?

Policy is a natural outgrowth of mission. Typically stated in writing, it places

the organization on record as supporting or opposing an approach to action.

Procedures flow from policy and provide guidelines for applying it. Writing a

policy on SP&M clarifies what the organization seeks to do; writing procedures

clarifies how the policy will be applied. Typical components of an SP&M policy

include a mission statement, philosophical statements, and procedures. A sample

SP&M policy appears in Exhibit 6-4.

How Are Policies and Procedures Written?

Succession planning and management policy and procedures should usually

be written only after decision-makers agree on program mission and goals.

Crises, problems, or issues of importance should provide clues about what to

include in the policy and procedures, and they will usually be implicit in the

mission. As decision-makers prepare a mission statement they will typically

consider what may be rightfully included in a written program policy and procedure.

In many cases, the appropriate approach to use in writing policies and

procedures stems from the approach used in preparing the mission statement.

For instance, if an ‘‘Ask and formulate’’ approach was used in formulating

the mission statement, then prepare a draft SP&M policy and procedures to

Exhibit 6-4. A Sample Succession Planning and Management Policy

Mission Statement

The purpose of the succession planning and management program in [company or

organization name] is to ensure a ready supply of internal talent for key positions at

all times. This organization is fully committed to equal employment opportunity for

all employees, regardless of race, creed, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or

disability.

Policy and Philosophy

It is the policy of the [company or organization name] to help employees develop to

the full extent of their potential and, to the extent possible for the organization, to

help them achieve realistic career goals that satisfy both individual and organizational

requirements.

This organization is firmly committed to promotion from within, whenever qualified

talent is available, for key positions. This organization is also firmly committed to

helping employees develop their potential so that they are prepared and qualified

to assume positions in line with individual career goals and organizational requirements.

Procedures

At least once each year, the organization will sponsor:

_ A replacement planning activity that will assess how well the organization is

positioned to meet replacement requirements by promotions or other personnel

movements from within.

_ Individual performance appraisal to assess how well individuals are meeting

their current job requirements.

_ Individual potential assessment to assess how well individuals are presently

equipped for future advancement. Unlike performance appraisal—which is

typically focused on past or present performance—the focus of individual

potential assessment will be on the future.

_ Individual development planning to provide the means for action plans to

help individuals narrow the developmental gap between what they already

know or can do and what they must know or do to qualify for advancement.

The succession planning and management program will rely heavily on the processes

listed above to identify individuals suitable for advancement. The program will

work closely in tandem with an in-house career planning program, which is designed

to help individuals identify their career goals and take proactive steps to

achieve them.

accompany the proposal submitted to executives. If a ‘‘Recommend and listen’’

approach was chosen, then draft an SP&M policy and procedures to accompany

the mission statement in the initial proposal to management. If the

approach chosen was to ‘‘Facilitate an interactive debate,’’ then committees in

the organization will usually be the means by which to draft policy and procedures,

oversee refinements, and issue updates or modifications to policy and

procedures.