Sound talent assessment reduces the subjectivity that has long surrounded the succession planning process. This important first step in succession planning is focused on the critical evaluation of both individuals and positions (current and future). The consideration of retention risk is often overlooked during this important phase and only becomes a priority during talent planning....or after a valuable employee leaves.
What is Leadership Derailment?
Leadership derailment can be described as being involuntarily plateaued, demoted, or terminated below the level of anticipated achievement or reaching that level only to fail unexpectedly. The term is often applied to individual leaders who had been expected to move into higher-level positions but who are unexpectedly knocked off track. An individual who has consistently been perceived to be a high performer can derail if they are unable to adapt their skills and behaviors to meet the changing demands of the role or the organization.
What is a Blocker?
A blocker is an employee who is preventing or “blocking” others from moving into a key position. Key positions serve as critical steps in a career path or offer a unique set of developmental experiences required for other roles in the organization. Companies should seek to fill key positions with high performing, high potential employees. We use the term blocker to describe individuals who are performing at or above expectations in a key position however they do not want to move out of the role for a variety of reasons. The individual may enjoy the role, may not have a desire to work additional hours or relocate, or do not have an interest in learning new skills and taking on additional responsibilities. The lack of desire to take on a new role or move to a new position limits their future potential, as well as the potential of others in the organization.
Succession planning and replacement planning are both strategies that are incredibly important to the lifeline of any organization. However, these two processes are often confused, even by senior organizational leaders. Despite the focus that boards and C-level leaders have placed on organizational talent strategy, I often encounter organizations that still equate succession planning with creating a list of replacements. I refer to this approach as the "names in boxes" method of succession planning. What distinguishes the two is basically the difference between executing short-term and long-term strategies. Do organizations need to employ one or the other, or are both strategies necessary to be successful? I would argue that the two talent strategies must work together.
The Talent Review process critical component of Succession Planning and Talent Management. Talent Review provides an opportunity for a leadership team to get together and discuss the performance and potential of the talent pool. Organizations frequently use a variation of the 9 box grid as a tool to facilitate discussion and make talent decisions. The 9 box is a simple, yet powerful, tool to facilitate Talent Review discussions.
Use the 9 Box to Develop Talent in Succession Planning, Part 3: Development Actions for Those with Low Potential
In the final installment of Use the 9 Box to Develop Talent I address the specific needs of individuals who demonstrate low potential.
Use the 9 Box to Develop Talent in Succession Planning, Part 2: Developing those with Future Promise
In Part 1 of Use the 9 Box to Develop Talent in Succession Planning: Development at the Top, I outlined a set of recommendations for development individuals who have been identified as having high potential - those individuals who would be placed in the top row of the 9 box grid. In this installment, I will examine those in the center - individuals who have demonstrated some future promise and have been deemed as having a moderate level of potential. Talent development as part of the succession planning process must be individualized to meet the unique needs of each leader.
Ban the Binder Series Part 3:
Use the 9 Box to Develop Talent in Succession Planning, Part 1: Development at the Top
My colleagues and I have written about the usefulness of the 9 box grid in the succession planning process. The structure and visual appeal of the 3 x 3 grid can help leaders evaluate talent in the Talent Assessment process, as well as guide Talent Review discussions. The usefulness of the 9 box grid extends beyond these first two phases of the succession planning process, providing guidance and direction to Talent Planning and on-going Talent Development.
As Succession Planning processes become more common in organizations today, HR teams are using a popular method for identifying and classifying talent: The 9 Box chart. The 9 Box chart is a matrix which contains employees categorized by two variables (their performance ranking and their potential for advancement).