Making Succession Planning Work for All Generations
Over a decade ago, when we first started n-gen, there were a lot of discussions about succession planning. HR leaders were trying to figure out what the best method was to succession plan. Complex matrix theories offered with 6, 9 or even 12 squares as a method for identifying employees potential versus readiness.
However, given a multigenerational workforce, there were some fundamental flaws that existed in the theories and practices.
Why ‘old school’ succession planning won’t work for Gen X and Gen Y
Any succession planning practice that relies on the fact that employees will stay with an organization out of an innate sense of loyalty is faulty. This is likely true of Baby Boomers as well, and certainly is true of Gen X and Gen Y.
Gen X and Gen Y are constantly evaluating and calibrating whether or not it is worth their time and effort to stay. Rather than calling it the practice succession planning, organizations should consider the practice as ‘capability management’.
Does your organization have everything in place to do ‘capability management’?
First your organization has to assess what skills they will require in the future. That future readiness should align with the business plan. Then your organization has to put into place a comprehensive learning and development system that allows employees to develop those skills. Career development conversations have to focus more and more on what employees are interested in doing and becoming, rather than what the organization needs.
Especially with the younger generations, if the organizational needs don’t match their career interests, it will be hard to move them into lateral positions or promote them.
Transparency is key to succession planning/capability management
Once upon a time, high-potential employees were sometimes not even told that the organization considers them ‘high-potential’. Also, if there was a plan in place, those employees were not told of the plan, but just told that ‘we have great plans for you’. In today’s market place, where employees see themselves as having options and a bigger bargaining chip than before, those methods will not work.
Only by being transparent as to what the needs are, and asking employees to be transparent as to what their interests are, will organizations be able to retain, develop and engage a stable workforce in the future. A workforce that will continue to produce sustainable results.