Career Development Planning

  1. Shh. It’s a Secret. Don’t Tell Anyone

    shutterstock_82765252_v2By: Jose Lopez, Knowledge Manager, Succession and Career Development

    One of the key challenges in implementing a Succession strategy focuses on the notion of transparency.  The key challenge is to determine how much you as an organization will want for succession candidates to know about the process and outcomes of such a process.  For some organizations this is well defined, but for many this can be a rather delicate situation and one that needs to be clearly thought out.  The answer for your organization may orientate around your company culture and the cultural implications that can arise whether you choose to be very open about the process or remain very private.

    Succession Management and Career Development planning processes are designed to work together.  I’ve seen organizations who make the connection between these two critical talent management processes are very successful in their overall management of the complete Succession Management lifecycle.

    Over the years I’ve worked with customers that span different ends of the spectrum.  On one extreme, I once had a customer who made it very clear from the very beginning that Succession information was very private and if such information leaked out, this would kill the project.  While I understood why such a strategy was very important for this customer and the implementation followed suite, it was hard not to ask the following:  If Succession candidates are not informed that they are high potential, or being considered for a future position, how will they…

    • Get feedback on specific competency and skill gaps for targeted roles?
    • Create a robust development plan with appropriate developmental experiences?
    • Not be looking for other career opportunities?

    As employees, it’s no secret that we want to be informed as to where we stand in an organization and how we may be perceived by others.   For organizations that may be struggling with how transparent you should be, the following are some process recommendations to consider:

    • Be clear about the purpose, process, and outcomes of succession planning for all participants.
    • All employees should have opportunities to discuss their career aspirations.
    • High-potential employees need to know they are valued and seen as having potential for future roles.
    • Talent reviews should produce specific development planning recommendations.
    • Set clear expectation with managers about confidentiality of
      Talent Review discussions.
    • Respect and challenge culture and tradition.

    In summary, I’ve found that many organizations invest a great deal of time into building succession plans, but do not adequately engage employees in career development discussions.  As you think about your strategy, there is no harm in determining as to whether your organization is being too private. Most engagement/employee surveys specifically ask about career opportunities which can be driven by a strong succession program.


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