Friday, 16 May 2008

Does Succession and Talent Management Work?



AMAzure have released the results of an interesting survey about Succession and Talent Management. They have looked back over a 10 year period with a variety of organisations to see what has worked....or not.

Here are the summary findings:

For organisations looking to introduce and implement high impact talent and succession management programmes, the key messages seem to be:

  1. Don’t begin the implementation process by introducing the “succession solution” of high potential assessment, general training and development activity, talent reviews and succession planning software. This doesn’t imply that these activities can be ignored, but that they need to be part of an overall game-plan and clear set of strategic priorities, and connected within mainstream business decision making.
  2. Identify the pivot roles that represent the technical expertise that will be critical to your organisation’s strategic future. Programmes around general management competency seem to have less impact than the accelerated development of specialist know-how.
  3. Recognise that a different leadership emphasis will be needed at different points in the corporate life cycle. Don’t allow one-size-fits-all management competency frameworks and criteria to constrain the progression of emerging leaders. Focus on building excellence in specific leadership skill sets rather than attempt to develop broad based general management effectiveness.
  4. Make decisions about who to invest in. Targeted development on key individuals reaps greater benefit than any attempt to build capability across the full management population.
  5. Utilise job moves to provide key managers with the experience they need to progress and build a culture of coaching that equips managers to develop their people. Don’t assume that the introduction of management training or business education will provide an alternative to leadership development.
  6. Ensure your top team is fully engaged in this activity and are taking a personal involvement in coaching and developing the next generation of leaders. Succession reviews that either are a “talking shop” or “rubber stamping exercise” don’t build organisational resilience.

What didn't work?

Organisations that had invested in an infrastructure of high potential assessment, general management training and development, succession reviews and information technology didn’t see significant gains in organisational performance. The existence of a “good” process wasn’t an indicator of positive organisational outcomes.

1 comment:

Tom Haskins said...

Chris: Thanks for the link to the 10 year study by AM Azure Consulting Ltd. Their findings about succession and talent development processes squares with some principles I rely upon:

-- The more powerful, capable and experienced we get, the more personal discretion we value and expect. When we're inexperienced, insecure and disoriented, getting the same treatment as everyone else is reassuring.
-- The more troubleshooting we've done successfully, the more we see how getting things to work takes a personal touch, sixth sense about the real problems and a willingness to get "down and dirty" with the particulars of each situation. The less experience with troubleshooting, the more we put faith in uniform methods and "one size fits all" solutions.
-- The more our networked world gives us opportunities to express ourselves, refine our personal outlooks and formulate our unique value, the more we expect systems to be responsive to us individually, mass-customizing their offerings, and allowing favorable exceptions to its rules. The more we live in the past of complying with authority, conforming to hierarchical expectations and silencing our doubts, the less we expect to be unique and expressive.

Thus a "good process" depends on 'the eye of the beholder" and outcomes depend on responding to the people involved in the process, not HR best practices.