Keeping Your Employees Engaged with Succession Planning

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Consider this scenario: a cashier who was hired three months ago at a high volume, luxury retail store approaches her Store Manager who is being promoted and asks, “Do you think I should apply for the Store Manager position now that you’re leaving?” The cashier has a business background, but no retail management experience. How should the Store Manager respond? Is it possible to respond honestly and protect the needs of the business, while also keeping the employee motivated?

In today’s world of instant gratification, employees with little-to-no leadership experience frequently expect a promotion before they are ready. Promoting an employee too soon may not only set up that person for failure and a difficult experience but also lead to perceptions of inequity and hurt feelings across the organization.

While you might be able to think of a time when a “too-soon” promotion benefited the business, a lack of clear and consistent standards not only lowers the chance of that person succeeding but your ability to build and retain a high-performance team. Consistently executing your customer experience starts with clear standards for performance and promotion. While some enterprises continue to promote based on seniority, many are choosing to use succession planning tools and development assessments. Based on company culture, these tools allow them to identify and promote internal candidates who not only meet the experience requirements but also have the right competencies based on company to excel in the “next step” of their careers.

Succession planning establishes clear standards for employees to move from one position to the next. Whether you are a healthcare organization with 50 locations or a one-unit restaurant, succession planning helps you build bench strength for key positions – and build motivated teams with shared beliefs about success and how it is achieved. What do you need in each role to reach success in the manner you want to reach it? From here, you can create a leadership model focusing on core competencies that can form the foundation for everything from job descriptions, to daily coaching and support. With these tools in place, an organization can develop its internal talent to be the company’s successful leaders of the future.

Effectively Using Succession Planning

Another extremely effective use for succession planning is to apply the company-selected leadership competencies to help employees understand their current strengths and opportunities, as well as what will be required of them to move to the next step and beyond. While employees might not be ready for leadership, or even the next step in their careers, most are at least interested in talking about their development and how to grow themselves within the organization. By showing entry-level and hourly employees specifically what it will take to rise through the ranks, you build trust, commitment, and potentially bench strength, as high potentials place greater value and importance on continuing their journey with your company.
Think back to the scenario we started with: if the company in question has succession planning tools in place, the conversation will be much easier for both the Store Manager and the cashier. By referring to the specific job descriptions and then discussing the leadership competencies required to be successful in each role, the Store Manager and cashier can have an active and meaningful conversation. This helps set a clear picture of the employee’s actual skills today and those necessary for future growth. The cashier will leave the conversation feeling supported and with an actionable plan in place for her development, instead of feeling frustrated and under-valued.
It is easy to consider the initial face value of having development and succession-orientated conversations with your employees – informed and well-cared for employees are happier! In addition to improving employee engagement, companies who successfully implement these tools have seen decreases of up to 21.5% in turnover and a reduction in errors by more than 40%. Simply put, making your employees’ development and career paths a priority will help them feel inspired, engaged, and motivated to support the core values of your enterprise.

How We Can Help You

Of course, you don’t need to wait for situations such as the scenario above before making employee development and career-pathing a priority. There are many potential solutions to help you get started that range from paper-based processes to online tools designed specifically for succession planning. At Corvirtus, we have a variety of tools that help you keep your employees engaged, inspired, and as valuable contributors to your team.
Have more questions about how to effectively engage your employees? Check out our whitepaper, “The “Roots” and “Fruits” of Employee Engagement” to learn more!

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