By now we all know — or at least we should — that succession planning isn’t just about identifying and grooming candidates for a few top roles.
Succession planning is also about identifying and nurturing your high performing, high potential employees so you can retain them and support their career progression.
These are the people who can easily walk out the door and find another job. They’re often the ones who embody leadership, whether or not they’re in management roles, and often hold a disproportionate amount of corporate IP and/or memory. They’re the ones you really need to keep.
Here’s a look at how succession planning software can help you identify, nurture and keep high potential employees.
Know who your real high potentials are
The first step is to know who your high potential employees really are. It’s a common mistake to think that all high performing employees also have high potential.
Bersin by Deloitte defines a high potential employee as one “who has been identified as having the potential, ability and aspiration for successive leadership positions within the company.”
It’s important to determine whether your high performing employees want to move up in your organization. That’s the aspiration component of what being a high potential employee means.
Also keep in mind that leadership doesn’t necessarily mean climbing the management ranks. An individual contributor who has the potential to increasingly specialize and demonstrate leadership in their area can also be a high potential employee.
Start by identifying what constitutes “high potential” in your organization, then use your succession planning software to get managers to rate their employees’ potential. At the same time, ask managers to rate their employees’ readiness for promotion, and to identify any who are at risk of leaving and why.
It’s a good idea to repeat these assessments at least yearly to maintain a current data set, and to compare results year over year.
Automating this assessment means you can quickly gather the data you need, then use the software’s tools to analyze it and take action.
Generate a 9-box grid
Next, use your software to plot all your high potentials on a 9-box grid that maps their potential as well as performance.
This will give you a good visual indication of who needs what kind of attention: development, career planning, coaching, etc.
Here too, it’s a good idea to generate this grid at least annually, and to look for changes.
Develop your high potentials
Now that you know who your true high potential employees are, put plans in place to further develop them and support their career progression.
Good succession planning software will let you create talent pools that define the competencies required for success and progression in a particular area — like executive leadership, customer service, R&D, product management, etc. — the level of skill or proficiency required, and the learning activities that can help to develop them.
You can then assign your high potential employees to appropriate talent pools for development.
Conduct a baseline evaluation of your high potentials’ demonstration of talent pool competencies, assign them appropriate development plans, then reassess their performance at regular intervals.
This kind of development planning and management is a key contributor to employee engagement and retention.
Here again, succession planning software makes the tasks easier and lets you aggregate and analyze ratings to track everyone’s progress. And it should give managers and employees easy access to the employees’ development plans, so they’re acted on, not set aside and forgotten.
Take action to retain your high potentials
If managers flag any high potential employees as being at risk of leaving, take appropriate action to retain them where possible.
Sometimes, simply being acknowledged as a high potential employee, and being given the opportunity to develop and progress in their career, is enough to retain someone. Other times, you’ll need to take other actions, like adjusting their compensation, giving challenging work assignments, assigning a mentor, etc.
Succession planning software can help you identify those at risk of leaving and ensure the actions you take are reducing that risk.
Promote them when ready
Whenever a new position opens up in the organization, look first to fill it from your internal talent pools.
Succession planning software can help you determine your high potential employees’ readiness for a promotion or new assignment, and give you data to consider a potentially larger pool of candidates for a role than you initially had in mind.
It can also help you identify areas where your talent pools are small, or where development activities aren’t effectively preparing high potentials for career advancement. In both cases, you can then take action to ensure you strengthen your talent pools.
Succession planning software: a critical tool for success
Succession planning is critical for any organization. It helps you identify, nurture and retain your high potential employees and ensure the future success of your organization.
By automating the processes and tasks that make up effective succession planning, and by aggregating vital data about performance, potential and development, succession planning software helps you target your actions and make more effective decisions about who to develop, who to promote, and when to take action to retain.
Know any other good tools to help support talent management? Add them in the comments below!
Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.