When it comes to recruitment, there are many who believe that identifying successors from within your company – particularly at CEO level – is the safest, surest bet.
But, of course, we’re all increasingly mindful of the myriad ways that diversity promotes success within companies.
I would absolutely say that diversity and succession planning are far from incompatible. After all, your succession plan needs to be a dynamic programme, not a stale list of names filed away somewhere.
If your succession planning programme is as dynamic as it ought to be, then the list of potential candidates should be fairly fluid. Of course, there might be one or two star candidates who are always there or thereabouts when the discussions are being had, but the programme should be vibrant enough to throw up curve-ball candidates.
Here are my tips for a successful succession plan programme.
Everyone’s a potential leader
Don’t be misled by the profile of the incumbent in the role – just because she or he has a certain set of characteristics does not mean the right successor will have the same. Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes. Treat everyone as a potential leader and you drive standards up throughout the business. If your company has a healthy diversity policy, this means the potentials will be a mixed bunch.
Put the onus on the incumbents to identify candidates
Incentivize execs to develop their team. It’s a big help to HR if the person currently in the role takes responsibility for identifying their potential successor. And this should not be something that only kicks in when their departure is announced or looming. Part and parcel of an exec’s role should be mentoring and seeking out the person who will take their place: make leaders accountable for developing their people.
The 70-20-10 talent development model
It’s not the exact science that some would sell it to you as, but I still think the 70-20-10 talent development model is a good rule of thumb. The general idea is that 70% of development should come from experience on the job, 20% from direct, focused peer mentoring and 10% from coursework and training. For me, the big thing to remember here is that we should not be complacent about the 70% part – if the company’s broader culture does not support it, then development will suffer.