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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 28, 2018 1:00 am

Employers need succession plans in place

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Most new hires are the result of hope.

That's one way to handle filling a job opening. And it's probably the most typical of three models.

You wait until there's a vacancy and run an ad to start recruiting candidates. You hire one, give them three to six months to settle into the job and get used to your organization's culture. 

Problem is, about 30 percent of those hires using this “Hope” model aren't successful, according to Capella University staff who facilitated a September webinar titled “Talent Spotting and Succession Planning: Filling your Leadership Pipeline.”

Another hiring model is called “Nominal.” You identify one or two individuals who could, if required, step into key roles on short notice. It's a quick way to fill a job. But there's also a risk when an individual is pegged as the next in line. Suppose the job doesn't open up? You could lose talent due to their discouragement. Worse, they might be pegged, but might not be well-suited for the future role. When the Nominal model is used, often little development occurs, said Richard J. Wagner, a Capella faculty member who has 15 years of experience in corporate training and human resource management.

A better hiring model would be considered “Robust,” said Wagner, who facilitated the Chief Learning Officer webinar with Shelley Robbins, senior chair, masters business programs at Capella.

With a Robust model, employers identify talented staff with potential to be promoted. They assess their abilities, attitudes and skills to zero in on development needs. The staff development process – identifying where individuals are and where they need to be – improves their current performance and motivates and engages the employees to prepare for future roles.

Wagner calls it a “strategic view of talent strength.”

Succession planning should focus on internal talent rather than outside recruits, Wagner said. And employers need to look beyond top-level jobs.

“Succession planning really began as a concept focused on key top executives,” Wagner said.

But there are “many business and mission critical positions; ... think about the person who runs your email system. What happens if they leave?”

Internships, mentoring and other such initiatives can help develop talent.

Robbins said three areas are important when considering candidates.

Personal leadership: What kinds of skills and talents are needed? What are the individual's purpose and values? Are they becoming more self-aware? Do they communicate effectively?

People leadership: How does an individual influence others and lead teams? Do they help others do the work to lead to their success and the company's success?

Results leadership: Are individual goals aligned with company? Do they think strategically and globally, and show accountability for results?

“It is essential a candidate has talent in each of these areas,” Robbins said.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at