Last year, the Aberdeen Group conducted a research study exploring the business impact of building learning capability. Using three key performance criteria to distinguish best-in-class companies, it was found that:
- 83% of employees in these companies received performance ratings of ‘exceeds performance expectations’;
- 13% experienced year-over-year improvement to revenue per full-time equivalent; and
- 78% of key roles have one or more ready-and-willing successors.
It’s that last statistic that caught my attention. Best-in-class organizations enjoy a steady stream of talent, being grown and developed in the wings. With this kind of robust pipeline, transitions occur with ease, the negative effect of unexpected occurrences and surprises are mitigated, engagement grows, and high levels of performance can be sustained.
Given the powerful and positive impact of cultivating successors, perhaps it’s time to begin evaluating leadership effectiveness based upon this important job requirement. Rather than subjectively assessing a variety of competencies and other factors, why not look objectively at the most crucial output for which leaders are responsible: the quality of their followers?
Well-intended forms and leadership evaluation processes could be replaced by an assessment of follower readiness to assume his/her next role. A full succession pipeline could lead to ‘exceeds expectations’ ratings and increases. All of this would telegraph the value the organization places upon development… and encourage other leaders to prioritize employee growth.
So, how well-populated is your pipeline? How many of your employees are ready-and-willing successors? How committed are you to their development? A few small steps on a leader’s part can drive disproportionate results. For instance, consider:
- Making sure you are clear about each employee’s snapshot of career success and how that fits into your organization’s structure and future needs.
- Engaging in ongoing dialogue through quick, on-the-spot conversations that keep development front of mind.
- Ensuring that each employee has a least one development plan or activity in process at all times. In today’s environment, if people aren’t growing, they’ll quickly find themselves falling behind.
What would your performance rating be if it was based largely upon having one or more ready-and-willing successors? Elevating your personal rating reverberates through others and the organization as a whole. So maybe it’s time to prioritize our pipelines.
What about you? What are you doing to ensure a steady stream ready talent?