A HR Fable.
You get a resignation notice from a top performing manager. You weren’t prepared. You have been talking about succession planning, but other priorities got in the way. Now you have the notice. So what do you? This is an important role and will be key to the future success of the company. Knowing the spot can’t go vacant, you take a look at the team and offer the position to the top performer. The top performer tells you he’s not ready. You know that he will be fine. You tell him that, hand him a set of keys and get busy on those other priorities.
A couple weeks later, the newly minted manager calls you. He has an issue. Actually, he has a couple issues. As you listen, you can’t help thinking to yourself, “why would he do that?” Instead of asking him, you tell him how to handle the situation. You even complete all the necessary paperwork for him and have it ready. You tell him that you will sit in on the conversation he needs to have with his employees if he wants. He says he’s not ready to do this on his own, so you take over and have the conversations. You already did the paperwork, so you might as well.
A few months later, you get another notice. This time it was from the top performer you just promoted. You think to yourself, “I need to get to that succession plan.”
There are so many lessons one can take from this scenario. Here are just a few.
- You can’t predict every turnover situation. You will get surprised. Life happens and people leave for a number of reasons. Be prepared.
- The best individual contributors aren’t always the best solution to an opening. They don’t always make the best managers. Build the model. Whether it’s a competency model or other model, you have to know what skills, knowledge and attitudes are necessary to succeed in key roles. Develop those skills in your high potential employees. (Oh and make sure you have a way to identify high potentials)
- Make sure the employee wants the job. If they think they aren’t ready, they might not be ready. If you think they are ready, help them find their confidence.
- Have a plan for those who are newly in positions. Have a mentor or a coach available to them. And don’t do for them what they need to do for themselves. Guide them. Coach them.
For more resources, See the Human Resources library.