The comparisons made between business and sports are endless, but one characteristic that both share as a key to consistent, progressive growth is succession planning. One can also refer to this index as “bench strength.” Whatever your preference, the companies that engage in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining talent are those that always rank at the top of their industry in terms of financial performance and market share. Maintaining a lofty perch above the competition doesn’t occur by accident. Succession planning is a priority that must be ingrained within all levels of management. The plan must be comprehensive-heavy to the point that benchmarks are in place from the time a new hire begins employment up to and including the day the employee is promoted or leaves the organization.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of succession planning is first determining the “people-leading” vs. “individual contributor” potential for each employee. A person is naturally inclined to have a greater strength in one of these two areas. Every manager has at least once promoted someone who was good in a particular supporting role into a supervisory position, only to watch their hand-picked protégé fail to deliver as expected. Perhaps the most common example of this mistake is elevating an excellent sales person to a sales manager role. A person who excels by having no one to be accountable for aside from him/herself is much more likely not to succeed managing a host of egos as well as added administrative responsibilities. He/she loses the thrill of the game and the individual accolades which come with success. Conversely, placing someone who thrives leading a team of contributors to instead play a supporting/sideline role will surely lead to a disenchanted, disenfranchised player.
There are a number of methods in discovering the inner core of these two critical elements of people. Once the distinction is accurately confirmed, the next step is to assemble a succession plan with the input of each employee and review it at least bi-annually. Plan for course-corrections and revisions along the journey. These sessions not only illustrate to staff the commitment of the company to promote from within, but allows for smooth transitions during episodes of turn-over. The net result is, everyone wins!