Succession candidate development program

In a seminar I presented last June entitled “10 Key Steps In a Well-Crafted Succession and Continuity Plan,” I spoke about the importance of defining the development programs and experiences that are necessary to enhance candidates’ skills and ready them for succession. There are several key steps to consider as you put together your development program.

First, in order to create an appropriate development program for a particular candidate and position, it is important that the required competencies for that position be clearly defined. There should be clarity about the attributes that will make someone successful in that particular position.

Once the competencies have been defined, evaluate the potential elements of the development program. The typical elements include experiential development, coaching or mentoring, and classroom or seminar-type training. Fluor Corporation, the largest engineering and construction company in the Fortune 500, believes its succession programs should be 70 percent experiential, 20 percent mentoring, and 10 percent classroom.

The experiential part of the program might include such considerations as job rotations, task force participation, key projects and assignments, and involvement in key meetings. It may also involve being given higher levels of responsibility for a smaller division or segment of the business. Someone being groomed as a CEO succession candidate, for example, might be given the responsibility of running a small division of the company.

Mentoring can also be a valuable way to help develop a succession candidate. Determine who in the organization is really excellent at a particular skill and establish some coaching and mentoring sessions with the succession candidate. There are also opportunities such as “young CEO groups” that meet regularly to discuss problems within the participants’ businesses. Many find these groups to be very helpful in grooming a candidate.

Classroom training should probably not be a significant part of the overall development plan, but can still be used to supplement the experiential and mentoring activities. Degreed education such as an MBA can, certainly in many instances, be a particularly valuable investment of time.

The process of developing succession candidates needs to be a defined and an overt effort, as opposed to simply being left to chance. The more thinking and planning that goes into developing a well-rounded experience, the greater the chance of a successful transition.

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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