246 Closing the Developmental Gap
key report of the VP of HR. But the agenda should ensure that time is economically
A key issue to work out in advance is the purpose of the meeting. Several purposes
are possible. One type of meeting focuses on rating possible successors and verifying
a talent pool. That may require time for open-air discussions. Another type of meeting
focuses on discussing the progress made in developing talent by division. A third type
of meeting focuses on high potentials and what developmental assignments should be
recommended to leverage their talents, challenge them, and build their competencies
for the future.
It is particularly important to pay attention to the group process of any talent
show. One reason is that the relative willingness of people to speak their minds hon-
estly is quite important to making good decisions. It is not desirable to have one or a
few people dominating the meetings. At the end of each meeting, a discussion should
focus on such group process questions as, ‘‘How well did we work together?’’ and
‘‘How could we work together more effectively in the future?’’
Phase III: The Follow-Up
Often forgotten—and something that must not be forgotten—is follow-up, to ensure
that actions are taken as they have been agreed upon. Often it falls to HR professionals
to follow up. That may require e-mails, phone calls, personal visits, and other contacts
to ensure that agreed-upon actions are taken. That is important because the lack of
follow-through is a common problem in succession. A second reason is that decisions
are pointless if they are not acted on. Someone must pay attention to that; it will not
just take care of itself.
See Exhibit 10-3 for more information about talent shows.
Formulating Internal Promotion Policy
The centerpiece of a systematic SP&M program is a written policy favoring internal
promotion. Lacking such a policy, organizations may have difficulty keeping ambi-
tious high potentials and exemplary performers who seek advancement. If they grow
discouraged, they can contribute to a devastating increase in avoidable and critical
turnover. It is thus essential for the organization to make all reasonable efforts to
retain them. One way to do that is to place the organization on the record as favoring
promotion from within. Not only does a promotion-from-within policy motivate
employees by showing that their efforts can pay off through promotion, but promo-
tion from within also saves the organization money in recruiting, selecting, and train-
ing newcomers.
American Management Association
Developing Internal Successors 247
Exhibit 10-3. Talent Shows: What Happens?
At Eli Lilly, the direct managers of high-potential individuals par ticipate in intensive
assessment discussions with other executives concerning the individual’s strengths,
development needs, and career potential. The individual’s manager then provides
her with the key points of feedback from the assessment discussion. Afterward, the
individual works with the manager to develop a personal career plan that reflects
her perceived career potential and also factors in her career interests and goals.
The career plan is reviewed by the manager and individual and is updated when
needed or, at a minimum, on an annual basis.
The amount of time that executives in many companies are devoting to succession
planning is a clear reflection of the increased priority placed on developing top
talent. At Dow Chemical, the Human Resource Council—a small group that in-
cludes the CEO and a handful of his key staff members—spends five days each year
off-site on succession planning: talking about candidates, reviewing development
plans, and directing development assignments. At Corning, executives in each
major unit spend one to four days per year in people reviews that extend down well
below the managerial level. The involvement of senior executives is often expressed
in very personal ways. In a number of companies, CEOs, such as former General
Electric’s Jack Welch, review job assignments and compensation recommendations
for several hundred managers.
Source: John Beeson, ‘Succession Planning,’ Across the Board 37:2 (2000), 39. Used by permission.
Essential Components of an Internal Promotion Policy
To be effective, an internal promotion policy should do the following:
' Unequivocally state the organization’s commitment to promoting employees
from within whenever possible and whenever they are qualified to meet the
work requirements of new positions. (But it is best to cap promotions at 80
percent to avoid too much inbreeding.)
' Define internal promotion.
' Explain the business reasons for that policy.
' Explain the legitimate conditions under which that policy can be waived and
an external candidate can be selected.
Since an internal promotion policy will naturally build employee expectations
that most promotions will be made from within, decision makers should anticipate
challenges—legal and otherwise—to every promotion decision that is made. For that
reason, the policy should be reviewed by HR professionals, operating managers, and
legal professionals before it is implemented or widely communicated. In any case,
American Management Association

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