Review and Succession Management Process

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About one-fifth of all management positions across all functions, regions,

and industries are expected to become vacant between now and 2010. As

a result, the need for succession planning has gotten the attention of more

companies in recent years.12 Only 34 percent of U.S. companies report that

they are effective at identifying future leaders,13 and four in ten senior leaders

fail in their new jobs within their first eighteen months on the job.14

Many companies are using new terminology, such as ‘‘talent review

process’’ or ‘‘acceleration pool development,’’ to describe what was traditionally

called succession planning. These new terms reflect the increasing

difficulty of preparing leaders and talented professionals for organizational

opportunities that may not yet exist in a rapidly changing market environment.

It is also widely acknowledged that many succession candidates are

never promoted into the positions for which they were slotted.

Here are some succession management strategies that are proving to be

effective:

Create alignment between projected company needs and individual

aspirations and abilities by conducting in-depth assessments of targeted

employees against required competencies to assess promotability

and developmental needs.

Have the process codesigned by human resources and line management.

Have higher levels of management review the assessments, eventually

reaching a senior talent review task force headed by the CEO. The

most successful succession management initiatives are usually driven

not by the senior HR executive, but by the CEO, and owned by a

senior task force or committee that includes the top HR executive.

Have managers of targeted employees inform succession candidates

that they have been identified to participate in a high-potential acceleration

pool, being careful to make sure they understand that no

promotions are promised and that changes in organizational plans

may result in their removal from the pool.

Have managers work with high-potential succession candidates to

follow through on customized developmental plans, often including

training, internal mentoring, 360-degree feedback, external coach-

ing, rotational assignments, global, and special exposure opportunities.

Make sure that candidate progress reviews of developmental plans

occur yearly and that potential is reevaluated for various future roles

and positions. It is important to give honest and constructive feedback

to candidates who have been determined not to be candidates

for higher advancement, so they may use it to make more realistic

alternative career plans.

Do these practices pay off ? According to Hewitt Associates, top-performing

firms as measured by total shareholder return are more likely to

use a consistently formal approach to identifying, developing, and tracking

the performance of potential leaders.15 Yet, only 64 percent of companies

have a management succession committee or process.16