Navigating Succession Planning: Balancing transparency and discretion

In the intricate dance of organizational succession planning, the question of whether to pre-inform staff about their potential ascent to leadership roles looms large, fraught with both promise and peril. It is a conundrum that treads the fine line between transparency and expectation management. While transparency advocates herald the virtues of openness and empowerment, proponents of discretion warn of pitfalls such as premature expectation and team discord.

The importance of succession planning in a going concern cannot be overemphasized. The heightened global talent mobility based off myriad of reasons makes the need for short to medium term bench strength a necessity than nice to have. 

So here are the questions:

  • Should staff members be pre-informed that they are potential successors to specific portfolios within an organisation?
  • If they should be, at what stage should they be informed and what should they know?
  • What is the risk from both sides of the coin?
  • What role does internal and external culture play in both context?

Download Succession Planning Tool-kit by clicking on the image

To delve deeper into this debate, let’s explore some real-life risks associated with pre-informing staff about their succession potential.

Jealousy and Resentment: Imagine a scenario where a high-potential employee is pre-informed about their succession potential. Despite their qualifications and dedication, other team members may perceive this revelation as preferential treatment, leading to feelings of jealousy and resentment. This toxic undercurrent can erode team cohesion and impede collaboration, ultimately undermining organizational effectiveness. Better still, the potential successor becoming too eager to step-in and allows his or her mind to run wild on shortcuts. There is more that can be discussed here. However, let’s leave it to our imaginations.

Stifled Innovation: Consider the case of a talented individual who is informed of their potential succession to a leadership role. Armed with this knowledge, he/she becomes cautious and risk-averse, fearing that any misstep could jeopardize his/her prospects. This aversion to risk-taking can stifle innovation and creativity, hampering the organization’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and seize emerging opportunities.

Overconfidence and Complacency: Picture a scenario where an employee is pre-informed of their succession potential early in their career. Buoyed by this vote of confidence, they may become complacent, resting on their laurels instead of continuously striving for excellence. This overconfidence can breed a sense of entitlement and inhibit personal and professional growth, ultimately hindering their readiness for leadership roles.

Mismatched Expectations: Consider a scenario where an employee is pre-informed about their potential succession but lacks a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities associated with leadership roles. Without proper guidance and support, they may harbor unrealistic expectations about the nature of their future role, setting themselves up for disappointment and disillusionment.

What about the risk of not pre-informing them?

Talent Drain: Imagine a scenario where top performers are unaware of their potential for advancement within the organization. Without clarity about their future prospects, they may feel undervalued and disengaged, prompting them to seek opportunities elsewhere. This talent drain can undermine organizational continuity and competitiveness, as key individuals depart in search of greener pastures where their potential is recognized and nurtured.

Morale and Motivation: Consider the case of employees who are kept in the dark about their succession potential. In the absence of clear career paths and advancement opportunities, they may experience feelings of stagnation and disillusionment. This lack of motivation can manifest as decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and diminished morale, ultimately eroding organizational culture and performance.

Missed Development Opportunities: Without knowledge of their potential for advancement, employees may forego opportunities for skill development and career growth. They may opt out of leadership training programs, mentorship opportunities, or stretch assignments that could enhance their readiness for future roles. This reluctance to invest in personal and professional development can impede organizational succession planning efforts, leaving a gap in leadership pipeline readiness.

Cultural Mistrust and Speculation: In environments where succession plans are shrouded in secrecy, rumors and speculation can run rampant. Employees may speculate about the criteria for advancement, question the fairness of selection processes, and harbor mistrust towards leadership. This atmosphere of uncertainty can breed cynicism, erode trust, and undermine employee engagement and loyalty.

Resistance to Change: When employees are blindsided by sudden leadership transitions or promotions, they may react with resistance and apprehension. The lack of forewarning can create a sense of instability and insecurity, triggering resistance to change and hindering the smooth transition of leadership responsibilities. This resistance can manifest as internal strife, decreased morale, and disruptions to organizational effectiveness.

Bridging the risks associated with pre-informing and not pre-informing staff about their succession potential requires a balanced and strategic approach that integrates elements of transparency, discretion, and proactive talent management. Here are some key strategies to navigate this delicate balance:

Transparent Communication Framework: Establish a transparent communication framework that outlines the organization’s approach to succession planning and advancement opportunities. Clearly articulate the criteria for identifying potential successors, the timeline for succession planning processes, and the avenues for feedback and discussion. This framework should foster open dialogue and clarity while respecting confidentiality where necessary.

Individualized Development Plans: Implement individualized development plans for high-potential employees, regardless of whether their succession potential has been disclosed. Work closely with employees to identify their career aspirations, strengths, and areas for growth. Provide tailored development opportunities, such as training programs, mentorship, and stretch assignments, to enhance their readiness for future roles.

Feedback and Performance Reviews: Incorporate regular feedback and performance reviews into the succession planning process. Offer constructive feedback to employees on their progress, potential, and areas for improvement. Use performance evaluations as an opportunity to discuss career goals, aspirations, and the alignment of individual development plans with organizational needs.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Foster a culture of continuous learning and growth throughout the organization. Encourage employees to embrace challenges, seek feedback, and pursue opportunities for skill development and career advancement. Cultivate a growth mindset that values resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to learn from both successes and setbacks.

Balanced Approach to confidentiality: Strike a balance between confidentiality and transparency in succession planning. While it’s important to maintain discretion to avoid unnecessary anxiety and speculation, be mindful of the potential consequences of keeping employees in the dark about their succession potential. Consider disclosing succession plans to individuals who have demonstrated readiness and receptivity to leadership opportunities, while respecting the need for confidentiality in sensitive situations.

Clear Pathways for advancement: Provide clear pathways for advancement within the organization. Develop transparent career ladders or progression frameworks that outline the criteria and expectations for moving into higher-level roles. Ensure that employees have access to information about available opportunities, required qualifications, and the support available for career development.

Emphasize Organizational Values and Culture: Ground succession planning efforts in the organization’s values and culture. Emphasize the importance of integrity, fairness, and inclusivity in all aspects of talent management, including succession planning. Ensure that decisions related to succession are made with a commitment to equity, diversity, and meritocracy.

While you ponder on the question how to manage the subject of transparency and discreetness in succession planning, you can access a Succession Planning Tool-kit by clicking on the image below:

Who is above the public speaking jitters?

Permit me, this is a “thought-in-text-podcast”

The idea for this short piece was derived after watching the GOAT deliver a speech at “The Grammys”. He made so much sense that his nervousness was not an item. If you are a fan of Jay, you will probably agree with me to want to argue that the least individual to have some bit of nervousness on stage will be Shawn Corey Carter. This guy has said and done it all. From performing to millions on stages to museum free-styling in front of regular individuals – he made wordsmithing feel like artwork; a good work of art. He gave us some lines those years. if you know, you know!

Can such a guy be nervous? Should such a guy be nervous?

Watch the video before I spill me thoughts

Now to my take on public speaking. Often feared and avoided due to the apprehension it brings. It is a skill that demands both courage and vulnerability. The jittery feeling before stepping onto a stage is a common experience that goes round and must go round. As a matter of fact, you are never going to be too big for it. So, rather than viewing nervousness as a hindrance, it can be reframed as a natural response to the importance of the moment.

In this article, lets look into why it is okay to be nervous in public speaking, while emphasizing the significance of effective communication and meaningful expression.

Nervousness, far from being a sign of incompetence, is often an indication of the significance one attaches to the task at hand. It’s a physiological response to the adrenaline rush that accompanies stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Recognizing and acknowledging nervousness can serve as a catalyst for growth, pushing speakers to prepare more diligently and engage more deeply with their audience. Moreover, nervousness humanizes the speaker, making them relatable and authentic in the eyes of their listeners (That means to say, na human being dey dey nervous). The GOAT was receptive of it and also drew strength from his daughter! So whenever, you are going on stage, be certain to identify your source of strength. Forget “don’t put your hands in your pocket” gibberish. If in that moment of the intense heat, your strength is in that right pocket of yours, go for it! The antidote is to be open to it, ensure you have something meaningful to say, take your time and be intentional in the way and manner you relay your story. At the end of the day, it is storytelling.

Okay, lets not get carried away.

While nervousness is permissible and even expected, it must not overshadow the essence of public speaking: effective communication. The true measure of a successful speech lies not in the absence of nerves but in the clarity and impact of the message conveyed. Speakers must prioritize understanding their audience, structuring their content coherently, and delivering it with conviction. Meaningful communication fosters connection, inspires action, and leaves a lasting impression long after the nerves have settled.

So what will be my recommendation to emerging successful even when nervousness is sure?

Don’t be open to speak on what you don’t know (that is a call to hyper-nervousness). If you have to, then move to the next point.

Preparation: Be prepared! this helps to build confidence and reduces anxiety. I am not one for writing speeches. I would rather identify what needs to be passed across and speak freely in the moment but ensuring there is clarity of thought. So if preparation for you is writing your speech, rehearsing, memorizing it then flow with it. Know your style and never be muscled into another persons style. From the speech you watched above, I believe you will join my bet that Jay knew what he was coming to say – perhaps not a written speech but knew the anchors in his message and found a way to deliver them as best as he could.

Engage with the audience: Shift the focus from internal worries to external engagement by actively connecting with your audience. Make them a part of the conversation, get them to give you a chance. It seems people like anticipation, passing mild joke about self.

Embrace imperfection: Accept that nervousness is a natural part of public speaking and embrace it as a sign of growth and opportunity. Ensure you have your source of strength, your own antidote at that moment of nerves. I know mine, find yours.

In conclusion, nervousness should be viewed not as a barrier to effective public speaking but as a companion on the journey towards mastery. By embracing the jitters and focusing on meaningful communication, speakers can harness their nerves to deliver impactful presentations that resonate with their audience. Remember, it’s okay to be nervous; what truly matters is the sincerity and clarity with which you communicate your thoughts and ideas. So step onto that stage with confidence, knowing that your nervousness is a testament to the importance of the message you have to share.

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#Curiosity #Findings

Work – Life Balance: finding X.

Where is the X? perhaps it can be found in understanding the scenarios around the whole concept of work – life balance. It is important to isolate the two key phrases in our effort to demystify the union between the two words. In doing this, it is critical that we attempt the following question for the sake of wisdom:

Question – is the concept/perception of work – life balance given or created?

There is a common thought pattern among employees; the average individual within the context of work holds the employer responsible for the perceived imbalance as it concerns their work & life. Hence the notion “my employer doesn’t give me a breather for life”. Can this be said to be the absolute truth? – caveat, this piece is not to hold brief for any party within the cycle of who shapes and ensures balance. The intent is simply to purge and help find direction for a desired balance.

Let’s do a bit of mental activity. Work revolves around two parties. One provides work while the other does the work. One provides the tools and essentials for getting work done while the other is still responsible for managing time, resources and putting in effort to get the work done. In this instance, who among these parties should be smart about getting work done? Stay with me. We will be back to tying the two ends of the argument.

Life, the second phrase is all about living it. The question here is, whose choice is it on how to live life within the chronological possibilities available to man? One can guess the univocal response to be the individual or the employee and not the employer. So, in this instance, can it be rightly maintained that the employee plays a bigger role in finding the balance between work and life? Does this balance ultimately hinge on smart work and prioritization?

Let’s explore these scenarios:

Delete a text in Microsoft Word

You – Highlight the text and click on control X.

Your Colleague – Highlight the text, right click on the mouse, scroll down to select cut, click on cut.

It took you two steps to complete a task while it took your colleague four steps to complete same task. Where your colleague approaches work with multiples of un-smartness in completing tasks, then such colleague might get saddled with a lot that really might not be a lot. In this instance, your colleague might have to show up every Saturday to complete outstanding task. The Life aspect starts suffering. Think!

Cook, clean the shop floor, and arrange the store before closing for the day.

Employee A – Starts the cooking process and ensured that cooking utensils were dumped in the sink without being attended to while scrolling through Instagram and TikTok at every interval. Moved on to cleaning the shop floor with the intent of washing the cooking utensils later. While cleaning the shop floor, took time to watch some skits and YouTube videos. Moved on to the store when it was some minutes to the closing time. The task of washing the cooking utensils was still pending…

Employee B – Started the cooking and was cleaning the cooking utensils as the cooking went on. Moved on to cleaning the shop floor and progressed in good time to the store to arrange the store as instructed. Finished on time and was right on time to close for the day and go engage in own life activities.

For employees like Employee A, will the possibility of balancing work with life be seamless? What intervention can the employer put in place to help such individual achieve a desired balancing of the two?

Or better still, you complain of the absence of time to get some personal things done just because of workload. Fair enough, however, you can start by writing on a sheet of paper what that thing is and also write on another sheet of paper that amount of money you would hate to lose or misplace.

Now, what if you are told that the amount of money you have written will be tripled and given to you the moment you complete that personal thing, would you find time out of the perceived busyness to complete it? You sure will because you would have filtered the noise, the distractions that you know bring about the imbalance observed between work and life. Suddenly there is some degree of importance and urgency attached.

Ultimately, tying the two ends, both parties, the employer and the employee are active participants in the subject. However, so far, from your perspective, who is more in the driving seat in ensuring a balance or integration of work and life?

Whatever your decision is, seek smartness and prioritize.

Wishing you a great year!

#curiosity #insights

Are there boundaries to agility?

At a point in our conversation, agility became the focal point for Ade (not real name). He works in the fintech space. He seems to have recently caught the bug and would spare no one about his own version of agility in a VUCA world. 

I say his own version because it was a depart from what I #thought agility meant. He spoke passionately about this strange concept which for me sounded like nogility. I also suspect that he must have read the book Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson and must have misunderstood the whole concept of rethinking a company’s business model and its attending activities.

Within the scope of work and the extended business space, it will be spot on to maintain that volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity have always been with us. The dimensional change and its attending variables in this time brings the difference. Do you agree with this conclusion of mine?

I say this because, Ade’s continued reference to VUCA makes it feel the world never existed. I believe elements of VUCA was present when Nokia moved from Textile to Mobile Devices. Well, I will be dropping my own buzz phrase here SAS! You will find the meaning at the end of this piece. So sorry for the digression.

I could have taken a bet that the whole concept of agility is all about being nimble, being flexible, being alert and being fast. It is not about doing a way with critical business activities. As a matter of fact, that is the foundation.

To attend to my #curiosity, what is the signal that shows that wanting to be agile is being abused or misunderstood? There are thought spewing out there like Ade’s that professes agility as not practicing or recognizing planning or anything that resembles being deliberate; being intentional and stable. If we talk about competitive advantage, how do you retain such position if your approach does not recognize the need for strategic planning?

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Are we really aligned? For CEO, your HR and others.

Strategic Direction: Assessing Alignment within Organizations

In any organization, regardless of its industry or stage of growth, questions around where the company is headed and what actions need to be taken to get there are critical. It is common knowledge that these are pacesetting questions that everyone within the structured business space is familiar with. However, assuming that all stakeholders are fully aware of their common destination and their expected role in achieving it can be a dangerous assumption.

Recently, as part of our bench-strength development initiative, I was discussing the subject of roles of interest with my Managing Director. He provided a fresh contextual perspective on what would inform our agreement on select roles of interest (not wanting to give too much info. *TFU). This interaction sparked a new thought process, leading me to wonder if the drivers of business are truly aligned or if they are pulling in opposite directions on matters that concern the organization. Are they having serious conversations on deeper issues that impact the business, or is it a cocktail of half insights and assumptions? #curiosity

To answer these questions, I have developed a simple tool called “Assessing Alignment” to determine the degree of alignment within an organization. This tool is designed for gathering feedback and taking action, and should not be used for victimization. In cases where the maturity level of the organization is in doubt or the level of trust is low, it is crucial to agree on the purpose of the exercise and re-emphasize it before deployment.

In conclusion, assessing alignment within an organization is crucial for ensuring that all stakeholders are working towards a common goal. This tool can provide valuable insights into areas of misalignment and help organizations take the necessary actions to address them.

You can tailor for use even outside of the workplace. Let your creativity lead you. If you are yet to SAS to this newsletter, Please Subscribe And Share.

*Thanks For Understanding

Is Performance Management betraying expectations?

It is expected that a definition of Performance Management (PM) be the introduction piece for this expression of thought. Well, forgive my rather unconventional approach by wanting to jump straight into the main course. PM has seen a lot of good times and can be said not to have scratched the surface of its possibilities. We all know that the appraisal aspect of PM is just one of the many activities that makes it a system. Best to mention here that this reflection is not about the inadequacies of the various PM systems. Little digression in celebration of many that has been and have continued to be relevant. First on my list will be the BSC! My personal favorite but least favored to majority due to its seemingly complexity. It bridges the business intents with the outputs of all functions within an organization. Next will be OKR! In my opinion, this is a simplified version of the BSC without the ceremonies of perspectives et al. Also worth referencing will be the MBO. The list goes on and very soon, I will be adding my own creation and I hope you guys give it a chance.

The advent of AI and its disruptions in the work space aligns with my posit that PM was yet to scratch the surface of it possibilities.

Can we have PM without knowing we do? I personally feel that is where we need to start pitching our PM. Can we infuse it into work? Can we make PM feel like showing up at work and everything in between? Let’s crack this, our traditional appraisal intervention is such that in periods, we are aware that something that determines that shift in our career or wallet is about to take place and hence apprehension sets it, all human moves targeted at winning big sets in. Kudos to the organizations that have crossed the bridge, found a way of making appraisal instantaneous. Well, you guys are doing a great job. For those who are still keyed into periodic, you are on track to launching into the next level. For those who are yet to commence any form of PM, it is not too late to activate the process.

So the question is, how do we infuse PM into our organisational life and it feels like the air we breathe? Making it seamless!

First, we need to decide that investments needs to be made and HR needs to get the brief that the shapers of the business have their undiluted commitment to this new way.

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