News & Insight
April 2009

Succession Management During a Downturn

Tim Morin, President & CEO

In a past newsletter we described WJM Associates' Leadership Point-of-View by highlighting seven characteristics of effective leadership. To see the full article, as well as best practices for developing effective leaders within an organization, please click here.

In the past several issues of the WJManagement Advisor we included an article highlighting one of these characteristics. In the following article we address the sixth of these seven, Talent Selection, by exploring how WJM assists leaders in managing their Succession Management processes, especially in light of the rare opportunities presented by the current economic downturn.

With the world-wide economic crisis running rampant, many organizations have taken their eye off the talent management ball. In many cases, high potentials have become the fall-out with companies making rash decisions about layoffs. Crude voluntary "buy out" programs or "last in, first out" downsizing programs are causing companies to risk losing the very people they will need when the economy turns around. The simple explanation is that in the midst of the present panic, many organizations have lost sight of managing and motivating the very people they will need for the future. In fact, this crisis is revealing how few firms have carefully considered their talent management strategies.

Rigorous Succession Management

Firms that carefully strategize regarding their talent management now, more than ever, have the opportunity to develop a significant advantage over those that haven't. In this environment, companies ought to double up efforts to identify the people to keep, and how to best to develop and motivate them.

In the current economic environment, we are increasingly being called upon by forward thinking organizations to assist them in managing their talent pipeline. These organizations realize that identifying and developing their high potentials will enable them to meet their business objectives today and in the future.

WJM offers an effective and pragmatic succession management methodology for identifying future leaders and providing them with meaningful and measurable development. The only way to keep talented people, especially in the midst of the current economic chaos, is to provide them with growth opportunities that keep them stretching and finding more promising opportunities internally than they might otherwise find elsewhere.

WJM's Succession Management begins with a pre-assessment consultation that includes in-depth interviews with the senior leadership team to understand the organization's vision, strategy and culture. We identify succession management objectives and the leadership competencies required to support the organizational strategy, as well as specific technical competencies required for any high potential role. We have the ability to develop customized leadership competency models tailored to the organization's vision for the future. Through the use of interviews and a variety of diagnostic assessment tools, we assess high-potential candidates to uncover their fit within the organization's culture, leadership competence, technical competence, management style, leadership ability and interpersonal effectiveness.

We then provide feedback of the assessment results in a clear and constructive manner with the executive's development as the primary concern. Our proprietary Leadership Proficiency Evaluation™ (LPE™) is shared with the executive and his/her manager to determine a customized development plan. The LPE™ provides a summary of the information gathered from the face-to-face interview(s), diagnostic assessments and 360 interviews. WJM presents a summary report on the executive and organizational themes to leadership, HR and/or the Board of Directors. We make recommendations on developmental options, leadership actions and organizational effectiveness.

WJM's key differentiator is our cadre of over 100 executive coaches, organizational psychologist and other consultants. WJM can work with the executive to improve performance and to strengthen the connection between the leader and the organization's vision for the future. In essence, our ability to provide 1:1 coaching assists high potentials to develop the required competencies for the future, enabling the succession plan to reach its objectives. Our broad spectrum of coaches allows for greater flexibility in complementing personality, developmental needs, corporate culture, language and personal background.

An effective succession strategy is crucial for any organization during this unprecedented economic crisis. Forward thinking organizations that seek to attain -- and sustain -- high levels of business performance, must focus on succession management. WJM Associates approach to succession management focuses on getting the right people in the right roles at all levels of the organization. Our solutions help organizations identify the best internal candidates for each position, lower attrition among top performers at all levels, and develop potential successors in ways that best fit their greatest talents.

For more information read Smart Execs, Boards Don't Neglect Succession Plans from IT Business Edge, featuring WJM's Tracy Duberman, SVP, Organizational Effectiveness.

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