Holding on to valued leadership talent so they don’t leave to work for your competitors – while developing key leaders for succession planning – are two of the top issues faced by companies in 2016. Surprisingly – and unfortunately – research indicates that as many as 70% of organizations have no succession plan in place for their CEO position. In my experience, which has involved daily or weekly conversations with senior executives and top-placed HR professionals, the problem doesn’t just apply to the CEO role. An alarming number of organizations have leadership vulnerabilities across the grid – including but not limited to those who hold key positions in the C-suite.
Then there is the challenge of retaining your best and most valued talent. How do you avoid the costly outcome of investing heavily in leaders, only to have them take those intentionally-developed skills and go apply them for your main competitors?
Let me suggest a solution that will achieve both objectives. Identify and develop leaders who show exceptional potential and promise at every level of your organization. Prepare them for moving up on a moment’s notice, ready to shoulder that new, bigger responsibility without missing a step. In fact, if you plan intelligently and proactively, they will hit the ground running if the leader above them retires, dies, has a medical emergency and has to leave, or makes an unexpected exit for some other reason.
Some of you may be thinking that’s too big of an effort and investment to make as just an insurance policy against unanticipated events. But let me point out why expert development of leaders is not just a forward-thinking strategy but is also the smartest shortcut to boosting current productivity and performance that you can take to the bank right now, in the current quarter or fiscal year.
What’s the immediate ROI? You’re rewarded with a stronger, more capable and diversified leadership deck, from bottom to top. When you take a proactive approach to developing the individual market value of each your leaders, they know you have their best career interest in mind. Nobody jumps ship and leaves that kind of company to seek employment elsewhere. So that’s not only the most effective way to halt attrition, it’s an incredible recruiting tool – and can do absolute wonders for workplace morale and internal collaborative culture.
The only question that remains is what are you waiting for? If you haven’t started identifying the diamonds in the rough, how will you know the value of your human resources? Once you do successfully identify them, evaluate what areas of their leadership can benefit the most – and which capabilities or skill acquisitions will have the most immediate and measurable impact. By intentionally developing talent from within, your whole organization will grow stronger, have more depth of talent, and be more leadership-rich. That’s how you predictably get ahead and stay ahead, even in the most fiercely competitive and unpredictable times.