Why competencies are the key to succession planning

November 20, 2017 Caitlin Leishman

The workforce is about to undergo a drastic change. Many businesses in North America, especially small businesses, are run by baby boomers who will soon retire. So what happens then? It’s essential to have the proper workforce and succession planning in place in order to have the right leadership in the right place at the right time. Many potential successors to leadership are millennials, a generation that traditionally doesn’t mesh well with boomers in terms of work style, communication preferences, and more. These differences must be considered as you plan to create a seamless leadership transition. Throughout the succession planning process you must make sure to recruit highly skilled employees to develop and prepare for promotion. Many organizations don’t currently have a mapped out plan for succession, which means there’s a danger key responsibilities will become overlooked over time.

So what can organizations do? Implementing a step by step succession plan that incorporates competencies is an excellent way to demonstrate a commitment to mentoring and developing promising employees.

Step 1. Company Vision

Before you get started on any talent management strategy, it’s important to take stock of your organization’s vision, mission, and values. These elements are incredibly important in determining future talent needs, target markets, and will give an indication of how to develop your employees. Competencies can help you with communicating your core values, and can turn succession planning into an integrated part of your talent management strategy.

Step 2. Take a Skills Inventory

It’s important to assess your current employees in order to determine if any are suitable for leadership roles. Knowing what skills and knowledge you already have is integral to addressing potential gaps in your strategy. Competency-based talent management systems are very beneficial in this sense, as they make it easy to quantify technical abilities, as well as harder to define behavioral qualities often captured in leadership competencies. Using an established leadership competency framework, you can identify the specific competencies needed for success. When you take a skills inventory, you can directly assess employees against these competencies, making it easier to determine what is already present and what is still required.

Step 3. Identify and Recruit

Identify if you already have young talent that shows leadership potential on your team. You may have had someone in mind that has experience, drive, and the necessary skills to move forward. If you do, you can move directly to step 4. If not, you’ll have to recruit talent based on the competency gaps you identified in your skills inventory. By conducting competency-based interviews, you can hire for specific skills and behaviors that are key to success in leadership roles.

Step 4. Ask, Evaluate, Inform

It’s important to ask your employees about their career goals, and to see if management is a step they’d like to consider. If they’re open to moving into a leadership role, you can then conduct competency assessments to see if their current competency levels match or are close to those required for the proposed position. Remember that leadership is not for everyone, and that just because someone thrives in their current position doesn’t mean they will do well with new responsibilities. If you think that someone is a good fit for a leadership role, it’s good to let them know that you see potential. You don’t have to give too many details if you’re not prepared to move them right away, but it’s important to at least let them know they have future opportunities with your organization.

Step 5. Develop

Once you have a selection of employees who have shown leadership potential, it is important to develop their skills according to their competency assessments. Discover their strengths and weaknesses, and provide development programs and learning resources accordingly. It is important to have frequent discussions with employees about their performance in order to ensure that succession can take place smoothly and with everyone feeling confident in their abilities.

Step 6. Engage

Retention is an issue for many organizations, so you want to make sure that your high potential employees are engaged and want to remain with your organization as they proceed toward a leadership role. Here are some strategies for increasing engagement in the workplace that will make sure your training and potential doesn’t go to waste.

Effective succession planning has advantages both for employers and employees, and is well worth the time and effort. Employees benefit by knowing the organization has plans for future development opportunities, feeling better prepared for said opportunities, and an increased perception of self-worth and value. Employers benefit by having prepared employees to step into key roles, capturing crucial knowledge, and being able to rely on staff to carry out the organizational vision and achieve goals.

If you have any questions about how competencies can be used to facilitate effective succession planning in your organization, contact one of our experts today

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