Developing the right talent today will ideally contribute to tomorrow’s business success. In our last issue, we talked about Jane and the challenge in determining whether she was qualified to receive the investment in executive coaching to move her to the next level. Jane has courage, humility, and discipline but is lacking in several critical competencies that could cause her to fail. To determine her potential, due diligence must be completed to make a very thoughtful decision. As an organization, evident criteria must be developed for future business needs and accurate data gathered on the employee to which one needs to compare to the criteria. The most common method to collect this information is to complete a Marshall Goldsmith Global Leader Stakeholder-Centered 360 assessment, which is offered by Golden Professional Coaching LLC.
To ensure the achievement of any succession planning effort, the executive board will need to identify any significant business challenges they anticipate in the upcoming one-to-five years. Critical positions required to support business continuity must be identified and flagged along with the competencies individuals will need to be successful in situations to meet the defined business challenges. The process is used to develop a pool of talent to step into critical positions as employees leave or retire.
To illustrate this point, let’s again look at Jane’s profile. The mission statement should include a statement about the organization’s ethical values. For example, if the company is concerned about the employee’s work/life balance, Jane’s behavior regarding overtime could be a checkmark against moving her up the ladder. Conversely, if the company has a five-year strategy to improve research and development to drive more business, Jane might just fit the business need and, therefore, be worth investing in executive coaching.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” —Henry David Thoreau
Succession planning can only be helpful when the process is supporting business strategies and goals. Often businesses are completing succession planning without a goal in mind. Executives need to be vested in the process to ensure its success. They will need to clearly define and manage the development of key talent. Employees will also need to understand their role in the process and know what is expected of them.
Developing the Talent Pool
“Unleash the potential that is in another and you unleash the potential that is in you.” Matshona Dhliwayo
The C-Suite executives begin the succession planning process by identifying their business challenges and critical positions for the next one-to-five years. The following steps in the plan development are to gather data on all employees. This data should include name, address, marital status, college degree(s), previous jobs (employers), awards, top 5-6 skills, bottom 5-6 skills, willingness to relocate, foreign languages in which they are fluent, career interests, and desire to move into a leadership role. Each employee should complete a pre-prepared form with this information and provide it to his/her manager.
The Nine-Box Model
Managers have a crucial responsibility at this stage, which is to place each employee in the correct location on the nine-box grid. The nine-box model is one of the most widely used tools in succession planning and leadership development today. The model is typically used to assess individuals on two dimensions including their past performance and their future potential.
The X-axis (horizontal line) of three boxes assesses performance, and the Y-axis of three boxes (vertical line) assesses leadership potential. A combination of Y and X axis makes up the box within the grid in which each employee is placed.
Below is an example of a typical nine-box chart from VIA Consulting, who has some beautiful materials available for no charge. More often than not, there are three categories for performance and three categories for the potential of the employee. This type of grid can easily be customized to meet the needs of the business. The horizontal line places the employee in a performance assessment placement from Low Performer (first row) to High Performer (3rdRow). Next, the employee is evaluated against leadership potential using the vertical line. The first column indicates that the employee does not have future potential with the 3rdcolumn indicates the employee has high potential.
While an individual leader can use the nine-boxes to assess their own employees, the real value to this process is when a leadership team uses the nine-box grid as part of a “talent review” to have a discussion about the entire organization’s collective talent. Once the nine-box grids have been completed by each manager, each division should complete a talent review and identify back-fills for each critical position. Employees in the division should be ranked by potential and performance. Plans should be developed to resolve the issues with the low performer/low potential associates. These individuals will hold the company back. Finally, each division will present their high-potentials and company will recognize their high-potentials and their diamonds in the rough.
“Many people think of management as cutting deals and laying people off and hiring people and buying and selling companies. That’s not management; that’s deal-making. Management is the opportunity to help people become better people. Practiced that way, it’s a magnificent profession.” –Clayton M. Christensen
Now that we have identified the vital back-fill individuals for the critical positions, we also need to identify the individuals that will back-fill the key individuals. These individuals come from the middle column (top two rows) and are perfect candidates for executive coaching. We know they will likely hold leadership roles in the next one-to-five years, but also know they are not ready. Now could we go out and offer managers off the street for these positions? Most certainly we could use that approach, but the real cost/benefit of doing so just does not work.
First, the cost of recruitment is generally three times the person’s salary. Then there is training. The best case for a new employee is six months but more likely a year. Then there is the break in continuity of having an employee that understands the company model. These costs far exceed the cost of an executive coach, which averages 25% of the employee’s salary.
Golden Professional Coaching offers professional executive coaching to the diamonds in the rough using the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching method. If you are interested in a program with a 95% success rate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is time to take those diamonds in the rough and turn them into your company’s future leaders!