How to determine the future potential of your succession candidates

When identifying succession candidates for any position, it can be difficult to assess their future potential. Presumably, the candidate is performing at a very high level in their current position, which is what makes them a possible candidate. But distinguishing between exemplary performers and “high potentials” is not always easy. Not all exemplary performers are high potential candidates, but all high potentials are exemplary performers.

So how can you determine whether your exemplary performer is also a high potential? Here are a few tips.

Consider doing a 360 evaluation of the candidate. It is very important to understand how others in your organization view the candidate – beyond his or her direct supervisors. We have had situations in our own firm where the partners viewed someone as high potential, but the individual was not viewed in the same way by others in the firm. This was an eye opener and it ultimately became an impediment for the individual’s long-term advancement. Often, there are some very interesting issues that can be identified regarding an individual’s character or how they treat subordinates that are important to understand before they can be considered as having future potential.

Another important issue to consider is loyalty. Does the candidate care about the organization? Do you expect that they will be around for a long time? Or are they a flight risk? There is no sense investing in someone who is always looking for a better situation or a position that will pay them more money. They are not likely to be around for long.

Is the potential succession candidate coachable? We have all worked with individuals who thought they knew everything they needed to know, even if they were not all that experienced. An individual with future potential is someone who has a thirst for learning and who wants to get better. They have an intellectual curiosity and acknowledge that there is always more to learn, and they are willing to take advice from more experienced supervisors (or even subordinates, for that matter).

Determining the candidate’s future goals and objectives is of critical importance. It may be that their future plans do not align with what the organization is looking for in a candidate. Simply interviewing and getting to know their true aspirations can determine whether or not an individual has long-term potential as a succession candidate.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.

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