Major companies reveal the solution to succession planning woes

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Although an astonishing 71% of Canadian business owners indicate they plan to leave their organizations within the next five years, a mere 7% have a formalized plan for leadership development and perpetuation.
To ameliorate this, business leaders should start with executive communication. While many supervisors feel reluctant to inform employees that they have been identified to take over leadership positions in fear that they will become complacent, this stance is ill-advised.
According to research from UK scholar David Clutterback, workers who are unaware that managers have a trajectory for them in place frequently feel marginalized and attempt to find fulfillment elsewhere.
Conversely, employees who are not meeting or exceeding expectations should be confronted as well, in hopes that the prospect of succeeding a manager will motivate them to work harder.
“Tell the employee, ‘Right now, if I were making a decision about promotions, I don’t think we could promote you, and this is why,’ said Paul Juniper, director of Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (IRC). “‘This is what you need to do and what we can work together on, so in the future, you might be a candidate for promotion.’”
Company-specific initiatives to address this issue include:
  • Proctor & Gamble intentionally moves leaders across country borders to provide “discontinuous” experiences that fosters growth and facilitates a more global understanding of business
  • Thomson Reuters switching from a hierarchal structure to a decentralized, more collaborative environment, wherein employees can move between functions and corporate centres in order to develop in ways fitting to them
  • Cisco taking versatile leaders and moving them around the company, sector to sector, so they are deeply knowledgeable in each and can fill in for departing executives with little training
“Succession planning should have the attention of every senior business leader working today. The human resource need is imminent,” said Juniper.

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