In an article from Harvard Business Review, called When Growth Stalls, by Matthew S. Olson, Derek van Bever and Seth Verry the authors state that:“Successful companies lose momentum for four main reasons. All are within management’s control if spotted in time.” It goes on to identify the 4 main reasons why companies stall; one of them being the lack of a strong talent bench. They characterize this as “a lack of leaders and staff with the skills and capabilities required for strategy execution.”
The authors point to this problem as a self-inflicted wound that is the consequence of promote-from-within policies that have been too strictly applied. They state that a company needs to recruit 10-30% of its senior management from external sources in order to remain healthy.
Can this also create a problem with a succession planning program that is too narrow in scope? If we only look to develop people to fill leadership roles, then we’re not developing our internal talent pools to fill all the vital roles in the organization. Promoting a specialized knowledge worker to a leadership role can create a void in the company, unless you’ve also been grooming a pool of employees to fill the knowledge worker’s role. We sometimes forget the importance of the whole point of talent pool based succession planning; it develops pools of employees with the knowledge and skills the company needs to grow and succeed in all areas, not just management and leadership.
It’s also important to bring new blood and a fresh perspective from the outside.But you can’t rely on being able to do this all the time, especially with specialized knowledge or skills. And every company has them – the one person who knows the product inside out, is the technology expert or visionary, understands the order processing system like no one else, etc. If we only focus on leadership or management roles for our succession planning and talent pool development, we’re putting our future and growth potential at risk.