When we looked at our own succession planning a few years ago, we analysed the critical senior roles across the organisation, and positions requiring rare skills set that would be expensive to replace. We then reviewed our internal talent; who we had in terms of emergency cover should a particular person leave and who was coming down the talent pipeline within the next three to four years.
It emerged that we were not always entirely sure who could step up to the plate and so we started to objectively assess people with a view to reviewing their suitability to be good leaders in the future, and to help individuals focus on their own development and career planning
After all, you may have high performers with potential who have no interest in entering management.
We introduced a one-day development workshop in which candidates would undertake a series of exercises and be assessed by a high-powered group of assessors, including members of the group executive committee, HR and a business psychologist.
We would then play back their strengths and development needs and provide support for their development plans in order to progress. In addition, we might recommend appropriate coaching, training or senior mentoring. It has made us more objective in how we identify high-potential people and helped employees focus on their specific development areas
Our senior leader development programme has now been going for over two years and 50 people nominated to attend by group executives have been through it. We have a similar programme for emerging talent and around 60 people have attended that globally, including colleagues from the UK, US and Bermuda.
Such schemes have a high degree of buy-in from our main stakeholders and will only become more important as time goes by.