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Top Secrets in Identifying High Performers for Succession Planning

Posted by Rick Yvanovich on

In succession planning, individual performance and potential are two decisive criteria that need to be thoroughly studied. When a candidate is pinpointed for leadership bench strength, you are invited to assume that he embraces both high potential and performance.

Yet identifying a Hi-Po, oftentimes, is based largely on speculation and conjecture, which make the process a high-risk and high-yield investment. Therefore, to shortlist succession candidates, the importance of addressing upfront the employee’s performance is paramount.

Read more: [Infographic] High Potential vs. High Performing Employees

Identifying High Performers

High performers, who are they and how to find them?

High performers refer to those superstar employees who consistently manage to deliver peak performance and who typically, but not necessarily, outperform their peers in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

These resourceful individuals are pillars of your organisation. It could be that sales representative whose closing ratio is nearly pitch-perfect or that prolific copywriter whose blog posts are cited and shared all over the internet.

A high performer possesses and exhibits these traits:

  • Serving as a role model, high performers exude an aura of confidence and inspiration. They are exemplary of hard and smart working, the alpha of the pack.
  • Persistent and resilient in the face of hardship, high performers view every challenge as an opportunity for growth.
  • Process-oriented, high performers do not just head blindly for the goal, they enjoy the ride.
  • Innovative, they continuously come up with ideas that support the growth of the organisation.
  • And they love what they are doing, high performers cherish the values they create and foster the development of the community of which they are a part.

People usually misinterpret that high performers are lone wolves and could not work with their peers. We believe that one more suggestive characteristic that defines a high performer is that they are highly collaborative with and supportive of others and seek to work in a high performing team, a group of top performers who share a mutual set of goals and objectives which they endeavour to accomplish.

Infographic: Are you a traditional or a collaborative leader?

To identify high performers, leverage assessment tools

There is a wide range of sharp instruments that are tailored specifically to talent identification. That being said, these tools are anything but thorough, for each one has its own upsides and downsides. We propose that rather than limiting to the use of one tool, businesses should package a shed of tools to ensure the best outcomes possible.

Some best practices to consider are:

  • Key Performance Indicators, unbiased, tell-tale and trustworthy are some of the laudable characteristics of KPIs, it comes unsurprisingly that this measurement method is part and parcel of any talent identification process
  • 360-Degree Review, by collecting and synthesizing a vast amount of feedback from all entities with which the candidate has interaction, 360-Degree Review delves into how the subject is socially perceived as well as his strengths and weaknesses in everyday conducts
  • 9-box Grid, incorporating both current performance and growth potential of the subject who is under review
  • Psychometrics test, bench-marking the competency level of the subject against a set of predefined criteria. In other words, psychometric tests evaluates how “job fit” the candidate is.
  • Self-assessment, encouraging the subject to self-reflect in order to avoid conflicts associated with succession planning

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Strategies to recruit and nurture top talents

Given the marketplace is increasingly candidate-driven, filling and retaining a high-performer pool has more or less turned into an uphill battle: demand for talents is far exceeding supply, the likelihood those key players jump ship or be poached from your direct competitors.

In order to improve employee satisfaction and entice top-notch candidates to stay, thereby aligning with strategic goals, (Goals that include, driving retention and turnover rate, increasing employee tenure as well as reducing attrition rate and cost per hire), it is imperative that organisations employ appropriate recruitment and nurturing strategies, which could be broken down into:

Foster employer branding

Defined by any attempt of the organisation to shape people's perception of and opinions about your employee value proposition, employer branding is instrumental in captivating prospective applicants and retaining your current top talents and professionals. This function is indispensable to talent management planning.

From the candidates' perspective, your company is closely analogous to a product/service to which they decide to subscribe and commit themselves for a period of time. For that matter, if marketing tools are to attract leads and customers, exercising employer branding is a must to cultivate your talent pool.

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor in 2018, 84 per cents of employees/job seekers disclosed that they deemed important of a company as an employer.

There are numerous approaches to showcasing your employer brand:

  • Communicate the job offers and perks via different channels and platforms
  • Encourage brand advocates and ambassadors by leveraging employee testimonials and reviews
  • Building a positive company culture

Nourish employee growth

Incentives come in all sizes and shapes. While competitive compensation could ensure you acquire that new hire, nothing is guaranteed that he would sign another 6-month contract after the first one expires.

A case in point is that Millennials and Gen Z, those who make up most of today organisations' payroll, are highly ambitious and forward-looking. They attach considerable weight to their long-term goal, the career path, which usually even overshadows their short-term gain, the monthly salary.

So to entice your talent to engage with the company for as long as possible, it is necessary to provide employees with people – and growth-focused incentives: making sure you define for them an upward career trajectory. It could either be registering employees to training and development plan that is relevant to their career goal or considering promotion opportunities when they meet eligibility criteria.

Read more: Why your employees are leaving you (besides salary)

Fine-tune company culture

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder once had a remark that drives right to the heart of company culture: "One of the things you find in companies is that once a culture is formed it takes nuclear weaponry to change it".

Of all the components that constitute an organisation, the culture is unmodifiable as it is hard-wired in and embraced by every member of the organisation, especially the long-established ones.

That being said, some fine-tuning are needed in order to make the organisation more employee-friendly and employee-oriented.

Such initiatives to consider are:

  • Embody sustainable development, adopting the long-term philosophy that concentrates on sustainable organisational and individual growth.
  • Foster employee well-being, encouraging work-life balance and providing employees with fringe benefits such as well-being programs, salary increase, vacation or gym reimbursements.
  • Incentivise non-financial reward, building an employee-of-the-month program, citing the employee’s success in the newsletter or even giving free lunches are all great incentives to add to your employee recognition program.
  • Value employees’ development initiatives, regularly conducting employee survey and one-on-one interviews to collect their innovative ideas as well as appreciate their inner concerns.
  • Cultivate growth mindset, nurturing a culture that revolves around growth-orientation, self-inspiration, and process-orientation.

Succession planning Solution

Topics: Talent Management

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 Rick Yvanovich
 /Founder & CEO/

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