How to prevent the wrong people getting to the top by implementing original, creative and more effective succession planning

Endaba Group

Whether it’s the energy-sucking Negative Nancy, the victim who won’t ever accept responsibility for their actions or the control freak who refuses to accept help or advice, the chances are you have worked with a ‘toxic employee’ before. If so, you’ll know the damage a constant naysayer or blame-shifter can do to the work environment. The issue is only exacerbated as they move up the career ladder.

Often equally problematic, though, are those leaders who simply don’t have the skill sets for the roles they are in – perhaps through no particular fault of their own if, for example, the job has changed around them. This can result in a talent ‘block’ or plateau where the individual can’t move further but prevents those beneath from advancing.

To guard against leader and succession plateaus, meanwhile, creating a culture of constantly reshaping roles and responsibilities is an excellent measure. Overall, the people strategy should be dedicated to monitoring existing roles, rather than purely focusing on filling new positions. This means building effective processes for recognising people who no longer match the jobs they’re in, and helping them sensitively find their way into one that’s better suited to them.

Sometimes this requires a large dose of courage, since management can be skewed towards appointing successors who are carbon copies of themselves.  Yet tomorrow’s best leaders most likely will not think or look like those in place today. Moving forward with more original, creative and nuanced thinking on succession planning and talent management is key for future business success.