Stop Preparing and Start Developing Your Successors

Stop Preparing and Start Developing Your Successors

The people practices that brought your organization to where it is today, may not be enough to propel you forward into the future. That’s certainly true of succession strategy, where the traditional approach of preparing people for specific roles is like trying to use yesterday’s roadmap in a landscape that’s constantly being reshaped. To meet the challenges of today’s environment, a shift is necessary – from preparing successors for predefined roles, to creating an environment where everyone is viewed as a potential leader.

The Downside of Preparation

The conventional method of identifying and preparing successors revolves around specific roles and near-term needs. While this approach might address visible gaps, it falls short in providing a depth and breadth of experiences. Individuals being groomed only for specific positions often lack the adaptability needed for unforeseen changes or to take on roles beyond their initial preparation.

In addition, reliance on preparation without equal emphasis on development can foster a sense of complacency. Over-preparedness for a set role tends to keep people in their comfort zones. It discourages them from participating in the growth experiences that could contribute to their and the organization’s overall capacity.

The Upside of Development

The key to overcoming these challenges is to embrace a culture of continuous development. Instead of training people for a fixed set of responsibilities, organizations should invest in developing diverse skill sets, a deep understanding of the company’s values, and a commitment to ongoing personal growth.

Continuous development encourages people to seek out new challenges whether or not there’s an immediate application of what they’re learning. Intentional development also means that leaders at many levels within the organization are being nurtured – not just those in leadership or managerial roles. This not only ensures a steady supply of talent, but also fosters a culture where everyone is engaged in their own, ongoing development.

Employee Engagement and Retention

Deliberately investing in the development of people sends a powerful message about the organization’s commitment to their success. There’s compelling evidence that employees are more likely to be engaged and loyal to an organization that prioritizes their long-term growth and career progression.

Development programs also contribute to a positive workplace culture. Employees feel valued when their organization invests in their professional development, leading to increased job satisfaction, and ultimately, increased ability to attract and retain great people.

The path forward involves stepping out of the confines of traditional succession planning to embrace the advantages of continuous development. It’s about shaping a workplace where developing successors isn’t just a strategic move, but a shared commitment ingrained in daily work life. When organizations invest in each person and each person is working on being the best version of themselves, leadership emerges across all levels and succession becomes a collective effort.