Tag Archives: SHRM-ATL

Succession Planning

Image from Pierce CFO.com

Succession Planning

Last week I had the pleasure of (driving in the rain and Atlanta traffic with bad directions) attending the August SHRM-ATL Power Breakfast where the topic was succession planning.

I looked at the event as a combination of factors. The content would be useful as this is an upcoming project I am pitching to the C-Suite and Board at the nonprofit I volunteer for. The content is good to understand for professional development and seeing how senior leadership could perceive and do things for my paid job. I also thought I might get an opportunity to network some.

Unfortunately, I arrived just as the event was starting and everyone left quickly, so there was no opportunity to network.

Some observations, the food choices were limiting (tasteless, rubbery eggs or pancakes, and fruit.), the check in process was smooth and friendly, leaving volunteers asked to have name badges turned in – yay for recycling! – and I didn’t see anyone else tweeting or taking notes. Although a look at the hashtag #shrmatl shows one other person did one tweet.

In fact other than a very few who appeared engaged in the discussion, others appeared to be bored and suffering. There was one team (of two) at my table who were discussing business! Luckily it was only for a few minutes, but I sent out a snarky tweet and was very close to asking them to take it into the hallway as they were distracting from the panel speakers.

So let’s see if I can make sense of my notes a week after the fact!

  • Succession planning can either be done top down or bottom up, the latter tends to be more robust and gets more buy in from line management.
  • Recruiters can/should have a monthly matrix to compare internal and external with regards to relocation and mobility. Note, relo/mobility is the biggest stumbling block to internal mobility.
  • Annual reviews of process should be done to reveal gaps in the process and for any position.
  • Succession planning always starts with the job description, then hierarchy, navigating the maze (how to get there from here), getting and using data, then aspirations.
  • Everyone (internally) should be a focus, by reviewing their core skills and leadership potential.
  • HR can facilitate between the business and EE roles in the process. The process does need buy in and discussion between the EE, manager, and organization (i.e. HR.)
  • There tends to be a lot of generational discrimination that needs to be addressed in the process.
  • HR needs to do more to connect and build relationships/connections, this helps grease the wheels of the succession planning process.
  • HR and managers also need to build the value in lateral transfers to build experience.
  • Managers and EEs should chat regularly (quarterly at least) to discuss what energizes the EE, what additional responsibilities they want to take on and where their aspirations lie.
  • It is vital to keep the lines of communication open as situations change. (And to know when they change!)
  • Sometimes it is best for employees to “boomerang” so that they can gain experiences and interact with different managers that they would not have access to. This sort of development helps both the employee and the organization.
  • HR (and the C-Suite if HR isn’t part of it) should review the organization to build in cross functional experience.This will help increase the number of potential successors.
  • Don’t wait until someone is 100% ready to move into a new role, instead if someone is 80% of the way there let them start. There was also discussion about those who are 60 to 80% ready should be developed to get them to the next level of readiness.
  • Succession planning can be viewed as a talent ecosystem.
  • High potential employees should be regularly (quarterly) assessed based on success factors and competencies to reduce/remove subjectivity.
  • Technology should be used to support the conversations had with regards to succession planning and readiness, it should not be a crutch.
  • Remove secrets and help each other.
  • It was suggested to change the title from Talent Management to Workforce planning – to which my notes indicate (yawn).
  • Data and Analytics can be used to see where there is movement, skill gaps, diversity gaps, and who is developing internally. It is recommended to review semiannually with managers and annually with the Cs and Board.
  • Use data and analytics to do a SWOT and build a three year plan. (To which I say, build in flexibility and ability to ramp up because times are changing fast!)
  • Use data and analytics to keep an eye on high risk in critical roles/people.
  • With regards to boomerangs, exit interviews of the panelists show that more leave due to manager or the commute, not pay. They rarely see a boomerang come back and be out of range (pay grade.)
  • Finally, the last points were to find ways to build succession planning into the culture so that the building of relationships and thus the necessary conversations are easier, more frequent, and less formal.

Poker Face

There are a lot of instances – personal and professional – where a poker face would serve one well. This week I saw a great example of an instance where it is imperative to have a poker face – when sitting on a panel discussion in front of a bunch of HR folks.

There were four panelist for the SHRM Atlanta to discuss succession planning. I’ve got two pages of notes from their suggestions that was great for professional education as well as take aways for the nonprofit I volunteer for. Double win!

One panelist was a “question hog” that took a long time to answer questions. Sometimes their answers were brillant, others they were just meandering and not something to translate to other businesses. I felt bad for her. However, whenever she spoke, I was entertained by another panelist that did not have a good poker face – and kept rolling their eyes at this person.

Oh yes, it was entertainment.

However, I felt bad because I formed two opinions of the eye roller – a negative one for not being straight faced and for not showing professional courtesy to the woman who was speaking. However, she was very well spoken, incredibly knowledgeable, and frankly looked and acted like someone I would want to work for.

Do you judge others based on how transparent their thoughts/emotions are? How do you reconcile that against other factors? And most importantly – how do you practice to create that perfect poker face?

I ask because I need to practice myself!