Executive Coaching: Providing Solutions To Succession Planning Challenges, Part I

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Have you ever worked for or with an organization that handled succession into key positions poorly? Or maybe even not at all until they were forced to do so?  

Attracting, developing, and retaining quality talent is more costly and has a greater impact on the bottom-line than ever before. Retiring baby-boomers, the expectations of Gen X and Millenial employees, and the new definition of “long-term” employment add up to a drastic shift in the way organizations should be managing their talent.

One effective way to overcome these challenges is to implement a succession planning initiative. This proactive approach to ensuring future leadership talent offers many benefits. Studies have shown that organizations with succession planning programs have a higher retention rate of human capital and a reduction in recruitment and compensation costs.

Succession planning should be more than matching employees with forecasted vacancies. Consideration must be made for the future direction of the organization as well as the direction of the employee’s intended career path. This ensures the employee is engaged in the process, committed to the organization, and has a vested interest in the company’s success.

While there are numerous benefits to succession planning, there are also challenges, one of which is limited resources and expertise within the company. Implementing a succession planning initiative can drain an organization’s resources. Here is where an outside intervention through an external coach or consultant pays off. Utilizing external resources provides expertise in succession planning and offers an objective, “outside-in” perspective targeted to the specific needs of the individual. 

Executive coaching can provide assistance with career management and employee development at the individual level. Using individual coaching and assessments, the coach can guide selected employees through the determination of a career path within the organization that best matches their interests and abilities. Once a career path has been chosen, the coach can help employees prepare for their next promotion.

Using assessments such as the DISC behavioral instrument, a Values Index to identify motivators, or an Attribute Index that determines strengths in thinking patterns and decision-making, a coach can help the employee gain clarity in the areas of motivators, interests, values, and strengths. The feedback obtained from the assessments is essential in creating a career management plan. During the coaching engagement, employees will compare this information along with their experience and education to key leadership positions and determine the strongest fit. This process ensures that employees are matched with the correct positions, reducing the possibility of employee disengagement and turnover at the executive level.

An executive coach will also assist in the creation of development plans. The steps outlined in the development plan will be based on the information gathered during a gap analysis. Comparing the employee’s current level to the experience, skills, and education needed for the next promotion will give the coach and executive a clear picture of where to focus their coaching sessions. Execution of the development plan during the coaching engagement results in promotion readiness.

Our next post will cover some additional benefits of proactive succession planning. 

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