Tag Archive: Succession Planning

  1. Succession Planning: Prioritize Frontline Manager Development

    How to prepare managers & supervisors to excel in their positions, and how it can impact on the organization

    Executives are coached. Senior leaders are mentored. Middle managers are developed. Often, this is the level where organizational development stops, leaving frontline managers to fend for themselves. It makes little sense to ignore the development needs of frontline managers because they are the “managers of execution.” Strategies are not successfully implemented and goals are not met unless frontline supervisors or managers make it happen. They are the people who are supervising the largest group of employees. They are also often hired or promoted into their roles because they have shown expertise in meeting job responsibilities and not because they have proven leadership qualities.


  2. Do These 6 Traits Really Make Men More Promotable?

    Personality data reveals slight differences between men and women, but not enough to explain the gender gap, especially at the C-suite.

    Nearly a decade after Sheryl Sandberg’s famous TED talk on the lack of women in leadership positions, we continue to see more men than women make it to top. According to a 2018 McKinsey&Company report, only

    • 38% of managers are women
    • 29% of VPs are women
    • 22% of executives are women

    At the executive table, men still outnumber women 8:2.

    The easy explanation is to say that women drop out of the workforce to be caretakers at home. While this may have been the case in past generations, it simply isn’t true today. The McKinsey&Company report shows that only 2% of women plan to leave to their careers to focus on family.

    Ambition isn’t the problem either, as 68% of women want to be promoted to the next level. Not only that, women negotiate for promotions just as often as men, according to McKinsey&Company.

    So, if women want to be promoted, they’re negotiating for promotions, and they’re not leaving their careers to focus on family, what’s holding us back?

    Are there differences in personality that can explain why more men are promoted to executive positions than women?

    First, let’s look at why people get promoted. Being assertive, competitive, and taking risks are often cited as factors that increase one’s chances of getting promoted. These are also behaviors that stereotypically male. On the flip side, being accommodating, reserved, and striving for perfection – behaviors that could potentially derail an opportunity for promotion – are stereotypically female.

    When we look at innate styles, do these stereotypes hold true? Are men really more likely to possess career-making personality traits?

    To understand exactly where the differences in our styles lie, we reviewed assessment data from 850,000 men and women in senior level roles across industries, focusing on 6 personality traits that strongly influence promotability:

    1. Accommodation.
    2. Assertiveness.
    3. Cautious Thinking, which can influence our willingness to take risks.
    4. Competitiveness.
    5. Detail Interest, which can influence perfectionism.
    6. Social Restraint/Reserved.

    While results do show some truth in gender stereotypes, differences on key personality traits are not significant enough to keep women from climbing the ranks.

    It’s not surprising to see that women score higher on traits that are stereotypically female, like accommodation and social restraint. It’s also not surprising to see that men score higher on traits that are stereotypically male, like assertiveness and competitiveness. On cautious thinking (a proxy for risk taking) and detail interest (a proxy for perfectionism), however, men and women score exactly the same.

    What are the implications of these trait scores? For starters, being higher on accommodation could lead women to say yes to more non-promotable tasks, such as organizing events or volunteering for internal committees. And, being lower on assertiveness could keep women from offering their ideas or asking for what they want. But, with the exception of competitiveness, these are differences of less than 10% – while the gap between men and women at the C-level is more than 5X that.

    You could say socialization is to blame. Modern culture, progressive as it may be, is still steeped in a legacy of traditionally-defined gender roles. Men are ‘allowed,’ and often encouraged, to be assertive and competitive. Meanwhile, women are expected to be moderators, peacemakers, and and put others’ needs first. Those are the messages we receive through childhood, adolescence, and into our careers.

    And yet – in spite of all this socialization – the personality differences between men and women are surprisingly small.

    To truly level the playing field, we as women can empower ourselves in areas where men have an edge. Yes, men and women are socialized differently, and, in general, we exhibit traits such as assertiveness and competitiveness differently. But that’s not to say we don’t have it in us. These are gaps we can close, and small gaps at that.

    The road to the C-suite for women (and for men!) starts with self-awareness. Then the work of developing healthy leadership habits can begin.

    The bottom line is this:

    If there’s no innate disadvantage, and we perform just as well as men once promoted, then all we have to overcome is tradition. And we’re making progress every day. So keep pushing forward!

    Olivia Salas

    Written by Olivia Salas, M.A.
    Vice President of Solution Delivery, Outmatch

  3. Leadership Development Programs

    Strategies for Smarter Investments in Leadership Development

    U.S. companies spend nearly $14 billion annually in leadership development. However, only 6% of leaders say they’re confident that their leadership pipeline is ‘very ready.’

    Why are leadership development programs not producing well-equipped leaders? This was the topic of a recent webinar featuring Martin Lanik, author of the business bestseller, The Leader Habit, and Sarah Glass, I/O and leadership development expert. After the presentation, Martin and Sarah answered audience questions on leadership development strategies, leveraging data for leadership development, and more. Learn more with Martin Lanik and Sarah Glass’ Q&A.


    1. What’s your recommendation on where to target leadership development? In the high potential population, or across all leaders?

    Martin: I recommend thinking of leadership development as a funnel. First, you want to assess everybody to get a basic understanding of what you’re working with, and establish a baseline. From there, you start prioritizing. Maybe there are some business needs that are more critical than others, and based on that, you identify in which areas (and in which people) you invest the most money.

    For example, you can use a leadership assessment across your leadership population, then use a leadership simulation to on a select group, and reserve your high-touch development strategies, such as executive coaching, for those employees who are most ready to take on critical leadership positions in your organization. The diagnostic piece is really key here. Without any assessment or analytics, you’re going in blind.

    2. In leadership development programs, what data is typically shared with the organization versus the individual?

    Sarah: Most of the organizations that we work with are leaning toward transparency. The idea is to share as much data as possible with the individual so that that person has an opportunity to understand their own baseline. Data that you share can help generate self-awareness, which is such a critical factor in a person’s development journey. There has to motivation and intent behind development, and the realization that it’s going to lead to a better result. Otherwise, you’re not going to see significant change.

    This doesn’t necessarily apply to something like a bench strength analysis, or anything with data in the aggregate that you’re using to make organizational decisions, but having data that’s visible at the individual level is definitely important.

    3. How much additional data do you get from a leadership simulation?

    Martin: The benefit of doing a simulation, compared to other types of assessments, is that you see the person in action. Rather than predicting, you’re actually witnessing their behavior. This is especially important when you think about a person’s readiness to move into a next-level position. The simulation allows you to place an engineer or a sales person, for example, into a management position—in a safe environment—and see how they tackle leadership challenges. This is as close as you can get to crystal ball—seeing how successful someone can be and how ready they are.

    To learn more about leadership development programs, and your organization’s role in helping leaders form positive leadership habits, watch Martin and Sarah’s webinar on-demand: Transforming Leadership Development From a Program to a Daily Practice

  4. Don’t Confuse High Potential with High Performance — Here’s Why

    It’s easy to talk about potential and performance as if they’re the same thing. You assume that your high performing employees will deliver rock star results in any capacity because that’s what’s driven them succeed so far, right? And you assume that your high potentials will master any new opportunity they’re given because that’s what potential means… Right?

    Not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between high performer and high potential.

    High performers: These people stand out in their current role. They do their job exceptionally well, so it’s only natural that you look to them when it’s time to make a key promotion decision. The problem is, the skills that helped them achieve high performer status don’t always translate to new roles or environments.

    High potentials: These people have the capacity to perform well in many roles. Their range of skills makes them an asset to your organization, but it’s important to remember that high potentials are still developing. They’ll need time to grow into a new role and probably won’t look like a high performer right away.

    So what’s the risk? The cost of confusing performance and potential is bigger than you might think. According to Pinsight, a leader in simulation assessments:

    “If high performers get assigned a new role that they aren’t cut out for, you’ve simultaneously sacrificed a star performer and compromised efficiency in the new position. Alternately, if you assume that a high potential already has what it takes to deliver exceptional results, you’re likely to discourage them and disappoint yourself.”

    In other words, a wrong decision about either type of employee is a turnover risk, and you need to know the difference in order to provide them with the right type of incentive. For example, high potentials crave development opportunities, while high performers are motivated by rewards or recognition.

    OK, so you’ve got high potentials in one hand and high performers in the other, but is it possible for employees to fall into both categories? Read on in this blog: High Performing High Potentials: The New Gold Standard.

  5. Stop Promoting the Wrong People

    What’s the difference between a successful promotion and a failure?

    To answer that question, you have to take a hard look at your high-potential development program.

    Even if you have a good way of identifying high potentials in your organization—using objective metrics, not manager recommendations, because research shows that managers get it wrong 60% of the time—you still may be missing a key piece of the puzzle.

    Just because an employee has potential for success in leadership doesn’t mean they’re ready to step into a leadership role right now.

    Usually, people are called high potential when they perform well in their current role. They bring in top sales. They receive high customer satisfaction scores. They’re enthusiastic about growth opportunities, and they impress their superiors with a “go get ‘em” attitude. But at the next level up, roughly 40% of these star performers will fail. Why? Because they’re not ready.

    How do you know who’s ready and who’s not?

    Looking at current performance is certainly an important factor. No one would suggest that you promote a low performer over a high performer. But what you need is more insight—a sneak peak of future performance before making the final promotion decision.

    The best way to do this is with leadership simulation, which puts employees in real-life scenarios similar to what they would face in the new job. By role-playing challenges they would likely encounter at the next level up, employees are able to demonstrate their readiness for a more demanding role.

    Not only do leadership simulations show you how employees work through scenarios in real time, they also measure three key drivers of success:

    • Leadership skills
    • Personality fit
    • Learning agility

    It’s important to remember that leadership is a series of a transitions, and being successful at one level doesn’t guarantee success at the next level up. Positions at the executive level, for example, will require different skills and personality strengths than positions at the mid-manager level.

    That’s where leadership simulation can continue to provide value as a selection and development tool all the way up the ladder. Having future-oriented metrics on leadership potential and readiness will help you break the cycle of bad promotion decisions and put you track to better succession planning.

    Learn more

    Check out this webcast on succession planning to see how you can layer data-driven strategies—including live virtual simulations—to predict future performance and fuel your strongest leadership pipeline yet.


  6. 5 Ways to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Succession Strategy

    Is Your Succession Management Program Working?

    It would make little sense for an organization to develop a succession management program without a defined plan for evaluating its effectiveness. But how can organizations evaluate their succession management program?



  7. 7 Steps for Creating a Succession Management Model

    How to Create a Succession Planning Model

    When created properly and with intentionality, succession management programs enable organizations to create a secure, sustainable plan for the future. Building such a plan includes seven critical steps.


  8. Success Beyond the Four Walls

    The transition from general manager to multi-unit manager is especially challenging, and sometimes even your best GMs aren’t ready for it.

    In this article, learn how to select the right GMs for multi-unit management. Then, listen to our webinar for an even deeper dive into the traits, competencies, and critical experiences that lead to success in multi-unit.

    Interested in learning more? Check out our other HR Insights webinars!

    GM to MUM blog teaser