Integration - Key to Effective Succession Planning
Whether attempting to crown the next CEO or determine which workers to tap for promotion to the company's managerial ranks, an organization needs a comprehensive view into the workforce's skills and talent in order to make the best talent and business decisions. Integrating learning, performance management, compensation management and career planning can facilitate effective succession planning.
A successful succession plan should answer the following questions for each candidate:
a) Learning: What does the candidate know (knowledge)? What is he or she qualified to do (skills)? What training has the candidate completed?
b) Performance and competency management: How well has the candidate performed in the past? What does past performance indicate about areas of strength and/or weakness? Which competencies have the candidate attained or still need to ascend to the next level? Which positions in the organization map to the competencies demonstrated by this candidate?
c) Compensation management: What is the candidate's compensation history? How does the candidate's compensation map to his or her performance and achievement of corporate goals?
d) Career planning and development: What are the candidate's future career goals? Where does the person see him or herself professionally, one, three, even 10 years down the road? Is the candidate willing to relocate in order to accept a new or existing position? How much is he or she willing to travel?
To answer these questions, organizations must have insight and visibility into organizational talent. By integrating and aggregating information about an employee's learning, performance management, compensation, career-planning activities and history, organizations can generate a comprehensive snapshot of each employee or of an organization's entire workforce.
Further, this integrated approach serves to match employee career goals with organizational staffing needs, allowing companies to more effectively leverage existing talent.
Historically, the enterprise-technology platforms available to manage this employee data have been largely cut off from one another, each confined to its own silo of functionality. Traditional learning management systems (LMS), for example, automate the delivery and management of training and, in some instances, competencies. Traditional employee performance management systems (EPM) automate performance management administration and, in some instances, career planning.
This siloed approach has made it nearly impossible to integrate the information necessary for effective succession planning. But talent managers now are driving the evolution of a new class of enterprise software.
According to a June 2007 research report titled "Learning Management Systems 2008: Facts, Practical Analysis, Trends and Vendor Profiles" from research firm Bersin & Associates, the integration revolution already has begun.
The report said the "convergence of learning and performance management systems is still in its early stages," but LMS features are evolving and "continue to snowball at an incredible rate." Further, in response to customer demand, nearly every major LMS vendor "has developed a new set of capabilities for performance management, succession planning, and competency management."
According to Gartner Inc. the same phenomenon is occurring in the EPM market. When Gartner Research Vice President James Holincheck wrote the update to the research firm's "MarketScope for Employee Performance Management Software" in late 2007, he said EPM systems are no longer being evaluated on their own, and customers are increasingly selecting EPM solutions that are "more integrated with compensation and succession management."
In response, Gartner not only broadened the scope of its research to include all three areas, it expanded the very definition of EPM, from focusing only on performance management to include succession management and compensation management.
With succession planning moving to the forefront of the corporate agenda, the time has come for stakeholders to evaluate their succession planning strategies and solutions in the context of broader talent management capabilities and goals.
References: Shelly Heiden[About the Author: Shelly Heiden is executive vice president for Global Field Operations at Plateau Systems.]