Talent Reviews and Succession Planning Matter More during Tough Economic Times

Article excerpt

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In the current economy, some companies are choosing to maintain their highly targeted leadership development programs to retain their best talent. But in an era where the media highlights charismatic leaders such as Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, JDS Uniphase has chosen to build broader and more sustainable leadership within the company.

Almost three years ago, the company's then-CEO made it a priority to invest in building a rigorous vice president and director-level talent review and executive succession planning process.

These programs continue to enjoy strong executive support and play an even more important role in driving people investment decisions during the current financial downturn. With shrinking development budgets, talent reviews and succession planning provide a robust and highly targeted method to decide which leaders to invest in for maximum return-on-investment.

The CEO and his staff review the vice president and director-level talent annually. Business segments have the flexibility to review their talent more frequently. Vice presidents and directors are assessed on their track record of results and leadership in the last three years:

* learning agility and potential to stretch into a bigger job or a lateral rotation

* strengths and development opportunities

* retention risk.

Managers plot their vice presidents and directors on a nine-box grid to assess overall leadership capabilities and to target individuals for development. The executive team holds several meetings to review all leaders on the grid. The prework and grid are merely tools to create a high-quality, honest dialogue and calibration of the company's leaders. …