If given a dose of truth serum, many businesses would admit to not preparing sufficiently for the future. Sure, a CEO may consider the organization’s legacy and what that looks like, but there is frequently not clarity around who will bring that vision to life.
And since that truth serum hasn’t worn off yet, you have no choice but to admit it: As a business owner, it’s discomforting to consider that one day, your brainchild will be in different hands. The unease is only amplified in family businesses that do not have a logical successor.
It can be equally dizzying to consider the impact on your organization if a senior leader left suddenly. You start asking yourself:
And this is where a trusted talent-management firm comes into play. Later this year, Caliper will unveil a Certification program geared specifically toward succession planning.
Business owners have enough to keep them up at night, between the capriciousness of the economy and competitors cutting into profit margins. The common thread between these external threats, though, is that there is little one can do in her universe to stop these planets from spinning. Thus, it becomes even more important to focus internally and give yourself and your business that long, hard look in the mirror, so you’re prepared for the future.
Now, you probably have some idea who your strongest performers are, so this should be easy, right? Just promote them, and we’re done!
Not so fast.
“One critical thing is, you must differentiate high performance and high potential,” says Learning and Development Generalist Jola Lewinska, who leads many of Caliper’s Certification classes. “People tend to wrongly assume that high performance automatically equates or leads to high potential.”
Through Caliper’s expertise, and the use of a trusted diagnostic instrument like the Caliper Profile, one of the goals of the classes will be for business leaders and HR professionals to understand the difference between high-performance and high-potential individuals, as well as to use the Caliper Profile to identify high potentials.
“You can have people with high performance – meeting their metrics, etc. – but limited leadership potential,” Jola adds. “Of course, you should reward and recognize their efforts and contributions to the organization. They may have a special skill set or institutional knowledge that gets results. However, they might not be the next C-Suite person.”
A May 2010 Harvard Business Review article provides a key statistic to back up the claim: “The sobering truth is that only about 30 percent of today’s high performers are, in fact, high potentials.”
While that percentage may seem shockingly low, consider that while an employee could be a subject-matter expert, possibly even good at training others, raising her up the ranks may expose certain deficiencies. Or it simply might not play to her strengths.
Luckily, Caliper can pinpoint which types of responsibilities would complement one’s behavioral tendencies and personality makeup. Through personality data and practical examples, you will begin to separate performance from potential.
“And we have tools, powered by the Caliper Profile, that take the emotion and bias out of the picture,” Jola notes. “We end up with a talent pool reflective of organizational needs, rather than one person’s opinion.”
Leveraging personality data that objectively identify one’s potential, Caliper can show you where your top talent lies. Through a scientifically validated process with decades of research to back it up, Caliper helps companies find those who possess the key differentiating ingredient to leadership: learning agility.
“Do you seek out feedback? Can you learn from mistakes? Do you have a global, more visionary, mindset,” Jola asks. “Over time, you notice similar criteria that identify high-potentials: They are usually inquisitive, resourceful, and outcome focused, and they take accountability and embrace opportunities to step outside of their comfort zone.”
Caliper promotes succession planning as a collaborative enterprise, with senior leadership, managers, and Human Resources personnel, who eventually have to implement the program, intimately involved. A multi-tiered process, succession planning involves everything from defining objectives and considering a future business strategy – which may already have been contemplated – to gaining employees’ buy-in. Two constants throughout the process, from the high potentials to those administering succession planning, are to constantly tweak and seek feedback.
“You need to self-reflect instead of coming up with some pieced-together process or not evaluating the right focus areas,” Jola adds. “And you need objective criteria instead of just looking at strong performance. If the answer doesn’t lie in the room, you may need an external knowledge base and new ideas.”