Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Building bench strength and succession plans, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
One of the great things about leading a high performing team is people grow, and they grow very quickly. The problem with that is they're always looking for new opportunities, and you're always at risk for losing someone, either to a promotion within the organization, or they move on to bigger and better things outside of your company. So as a leader, you need to be prepared for these changes, because over reliance on an individual player can be extremely dangerous.
For example, my dad was in the navy, and he was on a submarine, and they had a badge that was called The Dolphins, and the way it worked was, every individual in that crew had to know and be able to perform the jobs of every single other crew member, because think about it. On a submarine, if someone got injured or went down, you couldn't have the rest of the crew not know how to perform that role, because it put the entire organization at risk.
So think about your team the same way. Are you cross training your people? Do they understand one another's roles? Because there are huge benefits to cross training. First, it builds redundancy. If someone leaves your organization, you have someone else who can step in and fulfill those responsibilities, because the business needs to continue operating. Second, with cross training, it gives people a development opportunity so they can grow. If they're learning somebody else's job, they're learning new skills and building their own capabilities, and the organization is continuing to operate at the same time, so you're not exposing the organization to risk while that individual grows.
And then third, the people conducting that cross training are learning how to train and develop others, and as they grow into leaders and take on increasing roles and responsibilities, that ability to train someone else and develop other people is a critical leadership skill. So you're doing two things at the same time. That individual's learning a new skill, and the person teaching it is also learning the skill of developing others. Succession planning is critical to ensuring the talent gaps are short when a key player leaves or gets promoted.
So you have to do the cross training as well as understand who's going to fill a role if somebody departs. Successors should also know they're being groomed for that next level of responsibility. People want to know that they have a path for advancement of their own career. So as you're thinking about, "If this individual "leaves, here's my pool of possible successors," those successors should know there are bigger and better things ahead for them. And hopefully, that will help you retain them as they try to decide, "Do I stay in this "organization, or do I look for other opportunities?" Now in terms of building a talent pipeline, as a leader, you need to start looking ahead beyond what your current team has from a people standpoint.
And you need to build a robust talent pipeline of people who can come into your team and fill roles when gaps arise. Succession planning is not an HR responsibility. It's yours. HR does the recruiting. HR helps you find the candidates. But you, as the leader, need to understand and build that talent pipeline, and make sure you're thinking through succession planning, and you can ask human resources to come in and assist you in that work.
You should be regularly assessing the talent on your team, as well as looking across the broader organization, because that's your talent pool that you might go out to when you have an opening on your team. Ideally, you have a short list of people elsewhere in the organization you would like to recruit should you have an opening. I know some leaders who actually have that talent pipeline written out, and it also includes people outside the company who they know from their own personal and professional network.
And by staying in touch with those people in other parts of the organization or in other companies, when a role opens up, that leader can quickly reach out to those people and fill that role much more rapidly than the leader who has an opening arise they weren't expecting, and they don't have a talent pipeline built. Always try to be that connector between talent and opportunities. Because you're going to build that reputation of being the person people should come to when they're looking for a new role.
So by having a robust talent pipeline, and making sure you're doing the cross training, and having that bench strength built, in advance of a role opening up, you're going to fill your openings faster, you're going to get better talent that is better qualified for that role, and you're not going to have to just settle and say, "Well, I need a body, I need anybody, "to just be able to do this work." And get somebody who isn't a perfect fit for your team.
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- Creating a compelling vision and mission for your team
- Understanding the resources your team needs to succeed
- Recruiting the right people
- Balancing workload
- Setting goals
- Empowering people
- Resolving conflict
- Building bench strength and succession plans<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.