Succession planning has the opportunity for either a positive or negative impact in an organization and it depends on how you handle it.  While implementing a succession plan, you might run into a few stumbling blocks, here is one that a reader outlines:

I have a question for you. I am currently working on creating a succession plan for my area; I have identified some high potential people from other areas of the organization. I will approach them and ask them if the roles are something they would be interested in. However, how do you identify successors from other areas that you are not aware of?

There is a lot of work to create a strategic succession plan that facilitates cross organization pollination. It requires coordination and cooperation with all the departments and a commitment to the same rigor when evaluating and developing your internal talent.

The first step is to ascertain if the culture of the organization is a developer of talent, a talent magnet or talent poacher – or a blend of the three working harmoniously.

Last week, a colleague contacted me to discuss team development training using the HBDI. The V.P. spends 20% of her budget on employee development – that’s impressive. Here are the reasons .She is a strong proponent of people development. As a result, her turn over rate is high because other managers see her as pipeline for their organizations.

You might think she is getting poached, but…there is no bitterness and a certain amount of pride in seeing her employees as rising stars. It carries a constant burden of being the “developer”, a role that some managers avoid.

When organizations fail to cultivate a shared understanding of talent development and progression, a manager who approaches other employees in other areas might find resistance and create turf wars with their counterparts. The net result is often a negative experience for the employee and the managers.

The manager of the employee will feel slighted if their peer does an end run by talking to the employee first – this is the classic poacher scenario.

Show respect by having a conversation with the employee’s manager, it is considered a professional courtesy. The manager will be able to provide an overview of the employee’s strengths and areas of opportunities for development to ascertain his or her readiness for a new position.

If the employee is approached first and their manager is not supportive of a movement to another group, he or she may feel the boss is blocking their progression.  Your role is not to create unrealistic expectations with another manager’s employee. If you do, it burdens the manager with an employee who is unhappy and distrustful. How does that benefit an organization?

Ideally, organizations with multiple departments, groups or functions are using the same succession planning process. After completing their individual talent assessment of their people, there is a meeting with all the leaders and their Human Resources adviser.

The talent assessments or talent reviews are shared within the leadership team. Employees who are being proposed for advancement are discussed by the leadership group and agreements are reached to support specific development activities, time lines and role progressions. Some of the roles may be cross-functional or departmental and require agreement from both parties.

Gaining clear consensus will serve only to strengthen a succession planning process. If you are the succession plan innovator in your organization, it is better to use your process as a starting point for discussion with your peers. Share the insights you have gleaned from doing it and maybe it will become infectious. This approach will encourage your peers to participate collaboratively with you.