Part 3: How to Build Your Company’s Succession Plan–The Individual Employee Profile

When considering a succession plan for your business, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you have a solid, well thought out plan. In Part 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed the importance of Succession Planning and the 9-Block People Matrix and the Succession Planning Business Model. Today, we will tackle the last component of the Succession Planning Process: the Individual Employee Profile.

Individual employee profiles

A world-class succession planning process involves gathering employee data and information from 3 sources:

1) the company / Human Resources,
2) the incumbent employee’s supervisor assessment of the employee, and,
3) the incumbent employee’s self-assessment.

Typical information referred to and used in succession planning discussions include:

  • Employee Employment Data An employee picture (if available), name, title, date of hire, grade level, performance rating, 9-Block People Matrix data, etc. A current employee resume, if on file.
  • EEOC Data Employees’ EEO code, EEO Category, gender, military service, relevant disability acknowledgments, accommodations or restrictions, the company’s Affirmative Action Plan. Including EEOC information is a best practice to assure compliance with any Affirmative Action Plans or requirements even if your company does not provide products or services to the US government. Age should not be a factor in discussions unless an incumbent employee has notified the company of an impending retirement. All of this information is highly confidential, shouldn’t be distributed and is best managed by Human Resources professionals.
  • Educational Information Every degree (both graduate and undergraduate degrees) as well as degree type, major and any minors achieved. Year of graduation is not important unless the coursework shows a significant change and is relevant for the role being considered. For example, if an employee has an undergraduate degree in engineering and a graduate degree in human resources, that employee could / should be considered for positions in both the engineering and human resources functional areas of the business.
  • Professional Certifications All certifications that an employee has achieved should be captured. These could be technical certifications, like Microsoft Office Certification or a professional certification like a CPA.
  • Technical Training Technical / job related training or experience from either current or previous employers, should be included where available, especially if it relates to a position that the employee is being considered for outside his/her area of functional responsibility.
  • Leadership Training Any formal training received, from either internal or external sources in support of traditional leadership development skills.
  • Professional Experience Experience from both the employee’s current and previous jobs. Information should include company, position, location and any performance awards or highlights when available.
  • Company Positions and Salary History All positions and salary changes for the employee.

Once the profile has been completed, the employee should update or validate it for future organizational use.  Figure 1 is an example of an employee data profile prepared by the company and used for the succession planning process.

Figure 1. Sample employee profile for succession planning discussions

Manager’s assessment
The second source of data used in succession planning discussions is the employee’s manager’s assessment.
The assessment should be both quantitative and qualitative if possible. In Figure 2, the Core Competencies of the company are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. In addition, the supervisor needs to capture the employee’s top 3 strengths as well as the top 3 areas for development. These can be based on historical performance discussions and employee observations.

Figure 2. Manager’s assessment of employee

Employee self-assessment
The third, and final source of data is the employee’s self-assessment. This data comes in 3 forms. The first is validation of the information found in the employee profile; which includes educational experience, certifications, and any special training. The second piece of data is the Part 1 of the Employee’s Self-Assessment shown in Figure 3.
Note that in Part 1 of the Employee’s Self-Assessment the employee is asked to list his/her top 3 strengths in addition to the top 3 areas for development for comparison and validation by the manager.

Figure 3. Part 1 of the employee self-assessment

The Employee Self-Assessment also asks about the employee’s own career goals and timing expectations. Answers to these questions can provide insight into employee engagement levels and whether expectations are realistic or not.  The second part of the Employee’s Self-Assessment invites the employee to provide a list of volunteer activities and roles within those organizations. It also asks for the employee’s involvement in professional associations. See Figure 4.

Figure 4. Part 2 of employee self-assessment

Participation in activities outside the workplace may give insight into the employee’s areas of interest and motivation.  Involvement in external associations, especially in leadership capacities, is a way for the employee to gain additional leadership experience that the company could potentially benefit from.  Finally, while not necessarily required, an updated copy of the employee’s resume could be helpful in discussions.

Good human resources practice. When I managed a staff of exempt and non-exempt employees, I asked everyone to update their resumes annually. After the initial uncomfortableness, they realized that reviewing their resume was useful, especially around self-assessment time of the performance review cycle.

Like performance goals and performance reviews, the succession planning process should be completed yearly because some employees may have been promoted, some may have completed stretch assignments, and others will have retired or left the company.

Importance of confidentiality and bias neutral process
All discussions regarding succession planning need to remain confidential like any other company-sensitive materials.
Finally, it cannot be emphasized enough that all discussions regarding succession planning be facilitated by a bias-neutral individual in order to see alternate sides of situations or opportunities. It is for this reason that many companies engage the assistance of an outside facilitator to conduct and manage these discussion events.

If you have questions or need assistance with any of the 3 Succession Planning Processes; the 9-Block People Matrix, the use of the Succession Planning Business Model, or the Employee Profile, please contact me.

Randy Lumia is President of Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC and works with business owners to improve productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

Part 2: How to Build Your Company’s Succession Plan–The Succession Planning Business Model

When considering a succession plan for your business, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you have a solid, well thought out plan.  I’ve broken the steps into a 3-part series and included links to connect you with more information. In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of Succession Planning and the 9-Block People Matrix. Today, we will be discussing the second component of the Succession Planning Process: The Succession Planning Business Model.

Succession Planning (or Future Desired State) Business Model:

The Succession Planning Business Model starts with the use of the company’s existing organizational chart that includes all current positions in a cascading fashion.

The Succession Planning Business Model, a modified organization chart, is used to identify candidates for critical positions within the organization. The model usually starts with the top positions in the organization and removes the existing subordinates for those positions and functions. It is done in two steps.

Step 1:  Identify all critical positions and assess incumbents

Identify all critical positions within the organization and remove the subordinate relationships that are not critical to your business. This is done for as many levels as is needed to capture each of those critical positions within the company. Critical positions can range from the President down to a highly skilled specialized individual contributor.  Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the high-level positions only.

Then, assess these three critical data points for each incumbent:

  1. succession plan rating from the 9-Block People Matrix. The Matrix is used to plot an employee’s present-day performance with his/her potential.
  2. the incumbent employee’s current performance rating, and
  3. the likely timing associated with the incumbent’s next move.

Once you have your assessments put together, superimpose them on your Succession Planning Organization Chart (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The incumbents’ data alongside the critical positions chart

Not everyone in a leadership role is a “superstar” as indicated with the VP of Technology in Figure 2, where the incumbent is identified as a Talent Risk / Blocker. This employee is most likely going to be placed on a performance improvement plan and could be transitioned from the organization if performance doesn’t improve.

Step 2: Compile a list and assess potential successors for each position

Create a three-column table for those critical positions. These columns will include

1. name of successor candidates,

2. current succession plan rating from the 9-Block People Matrix for each candidate, and

3. candidate’s readiness level for the move into that position.

This data table is then positioned on the Succession Planning Business Model (Figure 2).

Figure 2.   Potential successors placed on the critical positions’ organization chart

You’ll notice not every position has an immediate backfill for the role (see examples where an external hire is needed in Figure 2). In these cases, the next likely candidate for the role may be an external hire. External hires should be the highest priority need for the department head, Human Resources and the organization’s management team.

An important note:  The Succession Planning Business Model also does not need to reflect a current organization, rather it can be a representation of a future state for which the company may be transitioning towards.

Process considerations

  • Like with the use of the 9-Block People Matrix, the Succession Planning Business Model is usually completed by a department head for the group that is being evaluated and matched against an existing Succession Planning Business Model.
  • Like performance goals and performance reviews, the succession planning documents change from year to year. Some employees may have been promoted within the year, some may have completed stretch assignments, and still others may have retired or left the company. As such, the succession planning process needs to be treated like any other critical people-related process that gets reviewed annually.
  • It is important to highlight that all discussions regarding succession planning need to remain confidential as with any other company-sensitive material.
  • Finally, all discussions regarding succession planning should be facilitated by a bias-neutral individual in order to detect alternate sides of situations or opportunities. It is for this reason that many companies engage the assistance of an outside facilitator to conduct and manage these meetings.

Coming up:  Individual Succession Plan Profile

The last part of this series used in the Succession Planning process is the Individual Succession Plan Profile and will be discussed in the next post.

If you would like for me to email you this three-part series or if you have questions with any of the three Succession Planning Processes; the 9-Block People Matrix, the use of the Succession Planning Business Model, or the Individual Succession Plan Profiles, please contact me at Paradise Workplace Solutions.

Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC works with business owners to improve productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

Man Down, Who’s Up Next:  Succession Planning Tools

Succession Planning is a critical part to any business’s People Plan to assure that the right person is in the right job at the right time for the right reason especially when something unexpected happens and there is a gap for a critical role.

Succession planning pays off for Apple

When Steve Jobs, former CEO at Apple, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had surgery to remove the tumor, he was hoping that he would “still be around for a few more decades”. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Steve Jobs thought ahead and embraced Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, and began grooming him to be his successor. When Jobs’ health deteriorated and he succumbed to the perils of the disease, Cook was favorably positioned and prepared to take on the CEO role.

In this situation, Jobs had the element of time on his side as it related to being able to develop his successor. Unfortunately, many companies, without a well defined succession planning process in place, find themselves in disarray when one of its critical people can no longer perform their duties because of an unexpected and acute situation.

Evaluating your people for potential

The succession planning process looks at a company’s current workforce and develops a talent pool of candidates for critical or important positions within the organization.

To ensure a company’s survival and continuity the first step is to identify the critical people and positions that could put the company in jeopardy.  Once you have that list, you will be ready to start looking at your current situation.

The succession planning process consists of three components; the 9-Block People Matrix, the Succession Planning or Future State Business Model, and the Individual Succession Plan Profile.  In this blog, we will be using the Succession Planning 9-Block People Matrix.

The Succession Planning 9-Block People Matrix

I have found the 9-Block People Matrix the fairest, consistent tool to use when evaluating individuals for future roles.  The Matrix is used to plot an employee’s present-day performance with that same employee’s potential. As the name suggests, there are nine boxes contained in the Matrix (Figure 1).

Figure 1. 9-Block Matrix

The process normally starts at the top with the senior leadership organization chart and cascades down as necessary. Typically, the senior leader in a functional area would be responsible for the succession chart of his/her function.  He/she should identify people in the organization who could potentially fill each critical role.  Each person should be assessed individually using the performance and potential descriptors in each box and placed in one of the boxes.  You may find it important to add some criteria specific to your business or the critical role.

Calibrate your leadership team’s evaluations

Like most things related to people any assessment can be subjective and based on an evaluator’s definition of performance and potential.  I always recommend a calibration meeting with departmental or company management team members be conducted following any evaluation. The calibration is a good opportunity to get additional input or have the evaluation verified. It’s also an opportunity for other managers to better understand the potential of employees they may/may not know.

You will likely find that there will be people (usually hired less than 12 months ago) that are too new to evaluate rigorously.  These individuals should remain on the radar for future discussions and placed in the “Not Classified” box.

As the business is in a constant state of change, so are its people with promotions, retirement and exits from the organization.  To keep on top of the changes the Succession planning process should occur twice a year. The first round is best done in early June (before individual vacations are taken and before any requirements for closing 2nd quarter financial books), and then again in either late November or early December. During this second meeting, it’s important to discuss individual development plans and gain alignment on performance before year-end reviews are completed.

Facilitators can challenge bias and further discussions

Finally, all discussions regarding succession planning should be facilitated by a bias-neutral individual in order to see alternate sides of situations or opportunities. It is for this reason that many companies engage the assistance of an outside facilitator to conduct and manage these meetings.

The other two components used in the Succession Planning process—the Succession Planning Business Model and the Individual Succession Plan Profile will be highlighted in the next couple of Blogs.

Contact me if you have questions or would like to receive a full-size copy of the 9-Block Matrix.

Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC works with business owners to improve productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

The People Plan: Tomorrow Comes Faster Than You Might Think

You’re all set with the people you need in your business today.  You’re feeling good.  It may feel like a relief and time to take a break so you can focus on other issues.  But now is the time to think ahead and put together your People Plan.

If you’ve been following my posts on People Strategy, you identified in your people schematic that you will need 3 sales reps instead of 2, a higher-level technician to support customer service, or even a new office manager within the next year. Where are these people going to come from? How are you going to assure that you have the right person, for the right job, for the right reason tomorrow?

Following three best practices for a People Plan is your answer.  A Succession Plan, Individual Development Plans for your employees and a Recruiting Plan will have you in good shape when you’re ready to expand your employee base or have to unexpectedly replace a high performer.

Is someone in your business ready now?

The Succession Plan is a company/management driven process that looks at all current positions and employees for the importance and criticality of each position.  The team responsible for the plan discuss the vulnerability of the employee currently performing the role, possible internal candidates identified as back-fills for the position, and finally the need to consider external hiring for positions where a viable internal candidate has not been identified. The outcome of a succession plan is a document that the management team can revisit or pull out in case of an emergency loss.  It goes without saying that the succession plan should be reviewed at least yearly or when a major change has occurred.

Will you develop employees so they’re ready for a bigger role?

The Individual Development Plan is a manager supported and employee owned process for the acquisition of new skills that will both assist the business and enhance the employee’s self-worth and career progression. Individual development plans should drive an employee towards additional skills, knowledge and abilities required for a higher-level position in the business, thus feeding the succession planning pipeline.

There are many avenues for training and skill development to consider.

  • Traditional (technical) Skills Training, also known as On-The-Job Training, are skills usually shared by a co-worker that has, or still is, performing the task or skill that the employee is acquiring.
  • Professional Training typically is gained through external sources and is usually technically or functionally important; like application development for an IT professional, or advanced plumbing techniques for a trades position, or new accounting requirements under GAAP for a CPA. Many of these types of training come with CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) for the profession in which the employee is employed.
  • Formal Educational Training comes from the traditional secondary, 2 or 4 year college or a technical institute and focuses on specific educational required material necessary to be successful in the position.
  • Soft-Skills Training, including Leadership Development, are those traditional non-technical skills that, when acquired, should enhance the ability of the employee to do their job.
  • Professional Networking. While networking may seem out of place for Individual Development, it is most definitely a way for employees to develop their soft skills in a non-threatening environment that could also lead to additional business.

How are you going to fill the competency gap?

Finally, when you must look outside your company for the skills that you do not have internally, is the Recruiting Plan.

  • A company first needs to be able to Attract candidates for existing openings or for possible future openings.
  • Actively Recruit candidates through traditional recruiting methods, which include posting on the company’s website, paid websites such as Glassdoor, and the use of external recruiters or staffing agencies.
  • To Passively Recruit candidates engages future prospective employees you meet at networking or customers events. Attending and participating in Job Fairs is an excellent way to engage potential job candidates for both present and future company opportunities. Attending college job fairs is also an excellent way to secure interns or prospective future full-time employees.
  • The use of Social Media is no longer a nice-to-have, but a requirement to attract potential employees, recruit employees, and recruit passive candidates. The use of social media is also a necessary tactic to market the business, connect with existing and future customers, and to maintain a visible and active role in the on-line community.

I’ll be covering each section of the People Plan in more detail in future blogs.  Look for my next blog on Succession Planning and the 9-Block Matrix.

Contact me if you have any questions on the People Plan.

Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC works with business owners to improve productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

What the heck is a “People Schematic”?

Many business owners aren’t in a position to hire full-time human resource expertise and your business may not need it, yet.  But you do need a people strategy to be confident you’re evolving the structure of your business and hiring at the right time.  That’s why we’d like to share a concept that HR experts use with leaders to diagram business needs and milestones with future employee requirements–the People Schematic.

People schematic defined

The people schematic is the first part of a successful people strategy that also includes a People Plan and People Metrics.  Just like a successful people strategy, the schematic helps to assure that a business has the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time, for the right reasons. Also like the people strategy, a people schematic is a living, developing diagram that gets reviewed regularly alongside the people strategy and the company’s business plan.

The people schematic is one element of a broader strategic workforce planning process.

Components of a people schematic

The people schematic uses information from the business plan that includes

  • the current state (number and types of employees vs. the business plan)
  • the desired future state (number and types of employees vs. the business plan)
  • business markers that indicate when key actions need to be taken.

The schematic is the plan used to close the gap between the current and desired future state.  For those familiar with the traditional human resources lingo, this could be considered an extension or means to the development of a headcount or recruiting plan.

The people schematic is a graphed representation that shows the number and type of employees that will be needed over time against the business metrics that are used. The business metrics are different for each business. It could be the number of widgets necessary to be produced or the revenue needed to be generated. The metric could be the number of patients that need to be reached. It could be anything that the business deems to be its goal. However, two things are consistent regardless of the company’s product or service: the companies financials linked to the business plan, and the use of any and all metrics that measure key human resource information, such as turnover, time-to-hire, etc. The key point is that the schematic uses information derived from the business plan.

Drawbacks of not creating a people schematic

Is your business at risk if you don’t have a people strategy?  Maybe not…initially.  But it can catch up to you.

  • Under-hiring can lead to excessive workloads on current staff, missing customer deadlines, and the inability to react to business needs or changes.
  • Over-hiring can lead to financial stresses on the company, inefficiencies of the workforce, or put the organization in jeopardy that could result in layoffs or staff reductions.
  • Not having the right people ready for the position at the right time for the business.

“Just-in-time” hiring is not easy and takes diligence. Factors such as manager input, recruiting ‘lead-time’, employee turnover and ‘lost time or opportunity’ need to be considered.

Evolve your people schematic along with your business

Naturally, as the business advances or encounters difficulties, you need to modify the people schematic and business plan.  Actively review both documents regularly at the leadership level.  Also critical is that your managers understand both plans because they hold knowledge and experience of your business that is critical to implementing an accurate business plan.

Important to note:  Before determining your demand for external talent, identify gaps in skills and capabilities in your current workforce. Fill these gaps through internal mobility and ‘upskilling’ first. We’ll cover these topics as part of the People Plan in an upcoming blog.

Contact us if you have questions on a People Schematic.

Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC works with business owners to improve productivity and profitable growth by aligning people strategies to the company’s business plan.

Racecar Drivers Have A People Strategy. Do you?

Imagine if Martin Truex, Jr. or Kevin Harvick had the fastest race car in NASCAR and a map of the course at Talladega Raceway but didn’t have a finely tuned, experienced pit crew. The time Martin or Kevin would lose on pit stops could cost them the race.

Or even worse, imagine if the crew chief of one of their pit crews had an emergency and couldn’t perform his/her duties and there was no alternate plan to put in place. The only person available to step into the role would be one of the tire catchers. What happens then? The driver may continue the race but what would the results be?  Disastrous.

Now picture yourself as a business owner with a great product and a well thought out business plan but no people strategy that maps to the growth of your company.  As your business grows, it needs some higher skilled employees or those with entirely different experience. Employees currently in positions may be high performing but not exactly what’s best for your business or ultimately your customers if they don’t have the appropriate experience or skills for future growth.  A People Strategy helps your employee base evolve as your company grows.

What is a People Strategy?
A People Strategy is a plan to assure that a business has “the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time, for the right reasons.” It’s a plan that is reviewed regularly alongside the business plan and has action items after each review. The plan has short, mid and long-term goals that may change or need to be adjusted as the business evolves. The management team is involved in the development and review of the strategy and committed to the resulting action plans that will ultimately help attract, develop and retain the right people for the business.

Just as important to defining a people strategy, is to identify what it isn’t; it is not a human resources department solution. Every supervisor or manager in an organization is responsible for owning the people strategy because they are closest to the needs of the business in their areas.

Elements of a People Strategy
A good People Strategy consists of three major components. I’ll call the first one a “People Schematic”. The second factor is the People Planning and the third one is the People Metrics and Performance.

  1. The People Schematic is a graphed representation that shows the number and type of employees that will be needed over time against the business metrics that are used. The business metrics are different for each business. It could be the number of widgets necessary to be produced or the revenue needed to be generated. The metric could be the number of patients that need to be reached. It could be anything that the business deems to be its goal. The key point is that the People Schematic uses information derived from the business plan.
  2. The People Planning process uses information from the People Schematic to answer the question of how the business will achieve the numbers and types of employees identified. This answers the question of how the business will be able to adequately assure that the number and types of positions are filled in the time frame identified in the People Schematic.
  3. Finally, the People Metrics and Performance encompasses those measurements and actions required in the first two processes to ensure a successfully integrated people strategy process and allow you the opportunity to make modifications as other dynamics change.

Continued success of your business
Most successful companies, new or well-established, have a strategic or business plan that has helped guide the direction of the business’s actions and activities. Often overlooked, the People Strategy is one of the most important derivatives of a company’s Business Plan.

Just as an experienced NASCAR pit crew and back up plan is vital to the success of the driver and the rest of the team, your People Strategy is crucial to the continued success of your business.

In future articles, I will be breaking down each of these three key elements to show how and what needs to be done to assure a successful People Strategy.

Contact Paradise Workplace Solutions to get more information on People Strategy.