Succession Planning: High Potential

We are on the verge of Trump being officially sworn in as Obama’s successor into the White House.  This is a choice that the American people have made through a democratic vote; a vote that is influenced by claims from each presidential candidate about what they can do to help America.  Yet when deciding their vote, the American people don’t know whether their chosen presidential successor will actually be able to deliver on these promises, they have no evidence of this.

Luckily with consideration and dedication, we don’t have to face as much uncertainty when identifying leadership successors in business. But there are still some uncertainties…will they be able to deliver at a more senior leadership level?  Will they be able to adapt to the demands of a more challenging role? Are there even any appropriate successors within the business or will this result in the need to buy in expertise?

Even in the American presidential elections, the people know who the potential successors are before the current president steps down.  Is that always the case within your business?  Do you know the possible successors for your own role?  Does HR have clarity on who could possibly step up into key leadership positions?

Businesses with effective succession planning strategies know this information and keep it up to date based on a review of the potential suitors both internally and externally.  This is important to keep business functioning in the right way and to avoid gaps in key roles.  However, this shouldn’t just be about planning for the knowns, such as retirement, but also the unknowns, such as leaders leaving for a new challenge.  Not forgetting as well, the subsequent gaps that might be left by successors stepping up into a role – what about the role they leave behind?  A succession planning strategy isn’t just about leadership, it’s all levels of the organisation. This allows a great opportunity for development and progression within the workplace.  Importantly, the identification of individuals with high potential helps to add to your succession planning and is important to do at all staff levels.

One thing businesses can have over and above the presidential elections is greater certainty around the capabilities of their people and their potential to operate at a more senior level.  Achievement against KPIs, appraisal ratings, workplace evidence and an objective assessment of an individual’s technical and behavioural capabilities all indicate an individual has the potential to move into a more senior role.  The earlier a business can identify, harness and develop that potential, the more likely they are to retain key employees and have a robust succession plan in place to protect the business for the future.

Whilst a new president cannot guarantee they will achieve what they say they will, a business can be assured in the evidence they have of the likelihood of an individual’s ability to deliver at a more senior role.

As Trump steps into power and appoints people to the key roles within the senate, successors he has probably been aware of and made decisions about a long time ago, businesses should take this opportunity to reflect on:

  • Who they would appoint into their key leadership roles?
  • Who would backfill other roles?
  • Where the potential successors outside their business are?
  • Ultimately, whether any of these individuals have the potential capability to deliver in these new roles?

Author: Tracy McNeill

Top 4 highlights from the DOP Conference 2017

As is the case every year, one week on from the Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) Conference and my mind is still racing with the insights, connections, discoveries and re-discoveries that this year’s DOP Conference 2017 has brought.

So, if I had to distill it down to my top 4 highlights, what would they be?

1. Behavioural assessment in a digital age: workshop

Having the opportunity to run a workshop myself this year, alongside my colleague Ross McGarrigle, was certainly a highpoint. We adapted our standard Assessor Skills training course to focus more on technology in assessment, and gave delegates the opportunity to use different assessment platforms while practicing the core assessing ORCE (Observe, Record, Classify, Evaluate) process in two different exercises. It promoted a lot of interesting discussion and delegates seemed to enjoy the experience and found it useful.

2. Game-based assessment

The theme of technology in the occupational psychology space grows every year. This year, game-based and gamified assessment were stand out subjects. We saw preliminary research to support the use of game-based assessment as a fair way of conducting implicit (i.e. unconscious) assessment of aspects of personality and cognition, thus making them more robust against impression management (or faking). However, other research presented suggested that “gamifying” standard ability tests can actually change what is being assessed, therefore invalidating the assessment. These issues will become increasingly critical for practitioners to address as technology in assessment becomes more prevalent.

3. Stereotypes

I was reminded of the pervasive nature of stereotypes and biases at various times during the conference. First, Keynote speaker Susan Fiske showed that over the last 70 years, negative attitudes towards minority groups have become less explicitly reported but are still as prevalent.  She went on to demonstrate how implicit stereotypes affect not only how we speak to others in the workplace, but also how we speak to about others infer information relating to common stereotypes from what we don’t say about the other person. A session from Helen Baron later in the conference highlighted how underlying stereotypes, expectations and biases affect our assessment practice, even if we’ve been trained.

4. Modular and fast assessments

My last highlight was from Professor Filip Lievens who presented a modular approach to assessment design to encourage innovation. He split out the various options for response and stimulus formats to create a “mix and match” approach (see table below). We have been using various methods in our own assessment design at a&dc to best meet client contexts and requirements as technologies have become available. However, the act of breaking assessments down to their building blocks and using a framework on which to hang new assessments allows us to look at the impacts of the assessment method in much greater detail. For example, Lievens highlighted a finding of ratings in favour of males when using video recorded responses for a role associated with males, although females performed better when written responses were used and gender was kept hidden. Stereotypes rear their heads again!

Modular approach to assessment, example table:

Modular approach to assessment

Overall, another great conference and I’m already looking forward to next year!

Author: Helen Worrall



Group discussion exercises for the digital age

Group discussion exercises have long been a successful method of assessing and developing candidates. They allow you to assess a wide range of competencies, including how the individuals respond to and react to others, important for identifying suitability for the role and assessing cultural fit within your organisation. Some of these skills, such as managerial qualities, decision making and interpersonal skills, may not have been picked up during other stages of the recruitment process. In terms of development, monitoring a wide range of competencies can help you to quickly identify any areas that require development and highlight employees you may want to fast track for management.

In this digital age new information is constantly available to us, and part of being able to manage this ‘information overload’ is knowing how to sift out what’s important and relevant, and being able to flex and adapt to these constant changes. There are multiple sources of information, from news articles and emails, to online messaging, texts and social media, to name a few.  Being able to assess candidates in a group discussion exercise that takes account of digital developments is vital for ensuring you are hiring and developing the right candidates and employees for today’s digital age.

That is why, here are a&dc, we have developed Business Sim®, a group exercise that embraces the digital age. By using video, information in different digital formats (such as news articles, emails, online messaging, texts and social media), can be presented during the group discussion exercise for the participants to act upon. These interruptions are a good way to measure flexibility, openness to change and stress tolerance; skills that are difficult to assess with traditional group discussion exercises. By using digital media as part of a group discussion exercise, not only are you giving them a realistic preview of the role, you are assessing how they perform in an environment that is relevant for today’s digital age.

To find out more about Business Sim, call: +44(0)1483 752 900, email us, or visit our Business Sim product page.

Business Sim webinar

Watch our webinar to learn more about Business Sim and how it can help you discover the right talent.


Business Sim demo

To see Business Sim in action, view our demo below.

To see a full demo on Business Sim, call us on: +44(0)1483 752 900 or email us.

Author: Marketing team