Succession with performers

There are almost certainly some people in your business who if you were to loose them you are just not going to cry about it. There will however be others who are the life blood of your business perhaps in Project or Executive roles and when they go, it will be a big problem!

In many businesses, succession planning for high performers and talent management is done through a process like making sure you have where possible, at least one off site a ¼ then having drinks with those people you’re a little worried about, to find out what the true story is around their ambitions

The problem with this kind of process and it may not look exactly like this, as it might be a six monthly thing, or you might get one of your team a person you know really well to find out things for you.

Consider four ways of ensuring you know exactly where people are up to on your team, so you don’t get nasty surprises.

  1. Setup agreements with your people so that you’ll let them know if you were ever going to make a move somewhere else with some decent notice and be specific. Ensure in this moment that they also commit to letting you know if they were getting itchy feet or wanted new opportunities, and make sure they commit to giving you the same notice period.
  2. When new people start after 4-12 weeks consider having an up front “Performance Management” style type meeting, this is not to tell them they need to pull their socks up, but more to set the scene for the future, and yes you might even address some tiny niggles early.
  3. Keep the dialogue open between all your team members and understand where your market is at. Are there many opportunities and head hunters calling daily in order to try and snap up your best people. Or is the market really quiet in your neck of the woods.
  4. Find out what your best people value most and make sure you are delivering them what they value. In Sales environments part of this might be about money, but ironically often it may be more about recognition, and often people miss this, until it’s too late.

Have a look at what Jack Welch from GE says about the treatment of people, and just have a think about whether

1) You Agree
2) If you do, is your business treating its people like this? If you don’t, do you have a process that’s really working?

If you are in a business where you often have your people leaving and whether they are good or bad start to look more carefully at what you are and are not doing to mentor your people. The true cost of most team member losses is hidden in many monthly financial reports, why is this?

Well in the past financial reporting has not been smart enough and even today is not able to track the “True cost” of losing a person. Below are some things to consider, the numbers are rough but start to have a think, if you are losing people its probably costing you far more than you imagined! Below the salary is only $70K and being conservative true costs might look like.

If we were to track the true cost to the business of people leaving you would need to consider things like:

Person Leaving Average Salary $70K = $6K per month

  • Recruitment Costs
    – Cost $8K
  • The time it took to get them to full competency (4 months)
    – Cost $24K
  • Time other people “Internal Trainers” spent to get them confident
    – Cost $15K
  • The time peers in the business spent with them (2 months)
    – Cost $12K
  • All the Managers time $120K Salary spent (2 weeks across a year)
    – Cost $5K
  • Loss of productivity from down time while you the role filled
    – Cost $10K
  • HR Team member costs
    – Cost $10K

Total Cost $84K

Now that’s only on the outgoing person who may have only stayed 12 month’s to two years, you will now need to incur all these same costs on retraining the new recruit and if you get it wrong again…

Why values are so important?

I was speaking with a client the other day about how an organisation he knew needed to better understand its existing values prior to moving forward. There is model that has been used by hundreds of thousands of organisations globally. It’s called Spiral Dynamics and looks at how values affect groups. Working on a series of levels, this 5-minute video gives you a serious look at your own business population and what your people value. Is your organisation at Level 1 to Level 5 or Level 7 – have a look and consider. Almost certainly there will be attributes that cross the levels, and certain tenancies will also be rife – ENJOY.

I thought I’d pen a few thoughts on this topic. I think there are at least five key things to consider:

  1. Do you know what values currently drive your people & how would you find this out?
    One way is to use a values survey or values measurement tool or group session on understanding how people feel the organisation treats them and what’s driving their current behaviours.
  2. How do you change them?
    If the current values are different to what you thought they’d be, how do you then change them? This is where things start to get interesting. Suppose you spend 4 hours in a room with your top 5 execs coming up with “SEVEN KEY ORGANISATIONAL VALUES” and then post them all over the place. Can and does this work?
  3. Involve the masses, but make sure you have a strategy to narrow down the results!
    If you use a survey as suggested above, rank the areas people have rated as “Most Important” and then look more into how these match the organisation. A specific intervention might take the form of a workshop where significant numbers of people (or an example population) go through the results and are asked for feedback on any extremes.
  4. Bringing “values” to life!
    Don’t just rest on your laurels once you have some traction. Have your managers consider how those values in every area of the business will and do affect them and what this means. E.g. Integrity is a great word, but what does it mean in the context of your business unit and how might it affect your internal talent management strategies?Often I see execs performance managing team members for taking too much sick leave or annual leave at crucial times, and then a week later they execute a key change management piece and take the following off because it had been “planned for ages”.
  5. Be congruent and vigilant about what you do.
    As you co-create the values in your organisation with your people, be careful of the behaviours you and your exec team exhibit in the business on a daily basis. Have a complete congruency between sets of values and the specific behaviours you and your teams display, ensuring they all link back.

By following the above five points, you create a continuous process of improvement around what’s valued inside your organisation. Check out Jim Collins, author of Good to Great & Built to Last in a 2-minute Video brief on the power of values here. Ensure that at the centre of any intervention are things like performance management & change management processes & implications have been fully thought through.