Succession Planning for Leadership Diversity – Part Four
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 9, 2016
Whew! This is the last part in our series on succession planning and leadership diversity. Over the course of 3,769 words in 3 articles combined, I’ve hit upon a lot of beliefs and ideas on what it takes to not only create a culture where organizations hire the right employees and train them to be good at what they do, but to also learn how to evaluate talent using criteria that’s presently standard and some things that aren’t standard but should be.
Just to catch up, in case you missed the first three parts of this series, here’s the link to part one, the link to part two, and the link to part three. Let go ahead and finish this series with a bit more discussion than planning.
1. Creating legitimate / large pool of applicants for all management positions
In the earlier posts, I talked about the need to create a succession plan so that organizations will have strong people who can take upper management positions that have the training and full understanding of the company culture. Whenever I put that type of thing out, it sounds like it’s going to be an exclusive club where only a few people might benefit from it.
In reality, if company’s follow all the steps I recommend (which they won’t because it’s pretty comprehensive), they should produce a plan that gives them a vast pool of talent… so vast in fact that some of those people might have to go elsewhere to have their shot. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; my proudest moments have always been when someone who worked for me was able to take a leadership position elsewhere because we didn’t have a spot for them.
By being inclusive, making sure women and minorities are part of the priority, one not only helps their own company but the community at large. Role models are in short supply in my opinion; an organization that looks like it’s taking the lead and contributing leaders within the community, even if those leaders are at other companies, strengthens their credibility in the marketplace; diversity always beats segregation.
2. Continual evaluation of promotion standards for current employees
Creating procedures and policies is only the first step in any process. The next step is making sure these things are always being updated. There isn’t a company in the world that doesn’t have some kind of change on a yearly basis. These are supposed to be living documents.
Also, with a succession plan, the idea is to see if the criteria for leadership changes with the times and the needs of the organization, while maintaining a process that still allows for women and minorities to have a fair shot at those positions. Even though we look at generational changes in 7 – 10 year increments, there’s nothing saying that a change in the deportment of candidates couldn’t change within a year or two.
3. Tracking the numbers
Statistics are crucial for every business and this area shouldn’t be any different. In part two, I told the story about a company that kept hiring the wrong type of employee based on a belief rather than what the numbers showed them. Data gives organizations the facts they need to provide a better product and to be profitable. The same processes need to be in place to see if your succession plan is working. If not, make changes that will be fair to everyone involved.
4. Make sure to not create a hostile environment
How could a hostile environment ever occur when you’re trying to make your process fair for everyone? It happens when someone believes they have talent that they don’t have and the evaluation process isn’t strong enough to either let them know what they need to do to improve or doesn’t give you the information you need to make an employee change.
When you factor in race and sex, things always get uglier. Anyone paying attention to news and history knows that whenever things aren’t going well, blame suddenly gets put on women and minorities and the belief that they’re getting special treatment because of who they are.
Setting people up to fail when you’re trying for a different result can come at any time if the leaders involved in the process aren’t strong or aren’t following established procedures. Don’t kid yourself; sometimes you’re going to entrust a leader to do the right thing without knowing that they don’t support your initiative.
5. Commitment from senior executives
Although I’ve always believed that a good leader can make a department strong no matter what other leaders in the organization are doing, reality tells us that no overall changes will be successful without the buy-in of upper management and C-suite level executives. All one has to do is look at how often group leadership training fails and evaluate it to see that everyone’s just going through the motions because upper management isn’t participating in the process.
It’s this reason why I’ve stressed that these executives have to have a hand in the mentoring process. This makes them a part of the policy and let’s them see how important and crucial succession planning is. Any upper management employees who can’t see the value in something like this are probably going to drag the company down… once again, as history has shown us.
6. Reaching out to the community
I told a story in part three about having to basically do my own recruiting in the community to get minorities to apply, then how I ended up having to hire the first minorities who weren’t in housekeeping or the cafeteria. I also mentioned that it helped open the floodgates to the point where, even though it wasn’t overwhelming, there were more minorities, including a disabled employee, than there had been when I first got to the organization.
As a consultant, something I’ve seen in my 15 years is that whatever talents I feel I have are accepted more by organizations that aren’t in my immediate area as opposed to those closer to home. I hate thinking that no one is ever seen as an authority if they live in a certain area, yet my own background has proven that.
Still, when people within a community attain certain levels of authority the word gets out, and the culture of both an organization and a community changes for the better. Imagine being known as the only big employer that not only actually hires more women and minority into leadership positions, but has a program that helps them become even higher leaders. What better publicity for a local organization can be better than that?
That’s all I have to say on this topic. I hope you’ve read all 4 posts related to this series. I’d love to know your thoughts and whether your organization with does this now or might benefit from thinking about doing it. As always, I’m available to help out… for a fee! 🙂