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In my last blog post, I talked about how technology-supported succession planning and career development initiatives can pump talented employees into the pipeline -- but not unless employers clearly understand that it takes the right people with the right skills to fill critical roles connected to key business drivers.

So how can business leaders and line managers “see” into these roles – and the associated skills and competencies – to know if the current workforce is ready to take on greater responsibility when needed, or to decide if additional development is necessary?

One forward-thinking way is by creating talent pools, rather than just replacing individuals. The objective here is to develop and coach these “pools of talent” continuously in order to bridge the talent gap and increase the workforce’s overall talent mobility.

Here are seven other tips for lifting succession management and career development programs from ineffective and lackluster to ones that exhibit a “best practice” world-class pedigree:  

  • Tip 1: Provide multiple paths.  Climbing the ladder of success isn’t always a journey straight to the top. Modern organizations require diverse capabilities and skills, so employers should offer multiple routes in a career journey to create a culture that encourages risk-taking and innovation.
  • Tip 2: Reward managers.  Organizations that value talent create effective incentives for managers to recommend employees for promotions and new assignments.
  • Tip 3: Use enterprise learning as a performance lever.  Gaps in knowledge, skills and behaviors can be addressed through development plans that tie directly to learning. Career development can drive engagement and retention, as employees see clearly how the organization is helping them grow and advance professionally.
  • Tip 4: Understand that senior management is just one way to achieve.  Not every valuable employee is destined for the C-Suite. Creating a career track for technical experts and non-management positions allows employees with specialized skills and knowledge to build a career while focusing on what they do best.
  • Tip 5: Train managers to coach, but give them the tools.  Line managers may excel within their functional areas, but may not have a clue how to be a career coach. Whether through learning (classroom or online) or access to development tools within a talent management system, focus on cultivating the leadership skills of those who have a direct impact on workforce development.
  • Tip 6: Allow employees to move horizontally or vertically.  Employees have different needs at different life stages. For example, a new parent may not be willing or able to access a foreign assignment. Or a young and rising star may want to attend graduate school. Providing opportunities for employees to make horizontal (as well as vertical) moves can drive both retention and engagement.
  • Tip 7: Make transparency a priority.  Effective succession management and career development thrives on providing information access. Example: Executives need insight into talent gaps and opportunities. Managers and employees need to be aware of measurement criteria and career opportunities. Technology can facilitate this openness.

Combine these suggestions with the right programs and talent management software solution, and succession management and career development will become dynamic processes that empower both the workforce and the organization. An employer who can make this happen will foster a strong talent pipeline, eliminate any talent gaps and ensure world-class succession planning.

To read more about succession management and career management best practices, download the white paper, “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Using Succession Management and Career Development to Improve Talent Mobility.”