Human Capital Management

Navigating Growth and Succession in a Multigenerational Workforce


With five generations currently in the workforce, and the younger generations placing a higher premium on growth and development, it’s imperative that companies prepare for succession planning. Following annual evaluations or reviews, merit increases and bonus payments, many organizations may be wondering what to do next when it comes to performance and development efforts. As with New Year Resolutions, it’s all too common for those carefully crafted goals to sit on the page until the next performance appraisal. If you don’t have the capacity for comprehensive development planning, consider mapping out the roles, people and skills to be prioritized over the year.

There are 5 areas that are likely embedded in your performance feedback and data that should be reviewed for growth and succession.

  1. SUCCESSION INDICATORS. In addition to planned vacancies due to retirements, promotions, and transfers, leaders should consider both the role and the individual when it comes to prioritizing succession efforts.
    • The role: is this a business-critical role? The answer might be yes for roles where a vacancy would be highly disruptive to operations or achieving targets.
    • The individual: is this individual critical to meeting goals?  This might apply to specific people who, while the role itself is not mission-critical, the loss of this individual would cause significant delays or disruption to the department, division, or organization.
  2. CRITICAL BUSINESS SKILLS. Identifying the unique skills among a team, department or division is a great way to uncover development opportunities for other employees. While all employees bring their individual talents, not all employees hold the following skills:
    • Technical Skills: knowledge or expertise on business operation systems, where the loss of these skills would have a significant impact on achieving goals or cause significant disruption to day-to-day operations.
    • Relationships: ownership of key customer or business partner relationships, where trust or communication is exclusively tied to a single or small group of individuals.  Continued success or partnership would be in jeopardy with the loss of the current relationship.
    • Subject Matter Expertise: deep knowledge within a unique area of expertise, or where few others have comparable experience.
    • Institutional Knowledge: historical context and perspective around previous decisions that were made, as well as the outcome or impact.  Internal background can also include broad experience across different areas of the organization.
    • People or Project Leadership: key leaders across the organization, or those who are highly successful in developing others.
  3. EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE. Calibrating performance is a work in progress for many organizations. It can be difficult to create assessment mechanisms that are comprehensive, equitable, and mitigate bias. Rank or rating systems also tend to consolidate areas of variable performance into a single designation, which makes it challenging to know where to leverage an employee’s existing skills and where to provide further development, and nearly impossible to have confidence that those ratings are consistent across different groups of employees. Leaders should establish tiers used consistently across different sets of competencies or performance categories. During a calibration session, leaders would discuss and align individually demonstrated behaviors for each tier level. In the below calibration model, each employee would receive a level of proficiency for each skill or competency required for their role.
    • Expert: Represents a high degree of mastery in the particular skill; are considered experts in the field; consistently excel in their performance.
    • Strong: Indicates a solid and above-average level of competence in the specific skill.  While not necessarily at expert level, individuals consistently perform well and contribute positively in the defined area.
    • Competent: Shows the ability to do successfully and efficiently; meeting the standards.
    • Developing: Suggests that the individual has potential for improvement or is currently developing this skill; not yet performing at the optimal level; often signals the potential for growth and development.
    • Needs Improvement: Reflects a clear area where an individual’s performance falls short of expectations or requirements; indicates a need for focused development to bring the individual up to an acceptable or desired level of proficiency in the particular area.
  4. TALENT STATUS. Where the above performance indicators are individually assigned to each skill or competency, the talent status is a summary designation of the employee’s performance specific to their current role. A talent status reflects a moment in time; they are intended to be fluid and may change year over year. A set of talent statuses that can be used to connect employees with growth opportunities or leverage others to provide development support, might look like this:
    • Ready for Advancement: Employee demonstrates elite performance and has the ability, aspiration, and commitment for roles of increasing scope and responsibility. Employee consistently contributes beyond their current role and is growing at a rapid rate. They often are already doing some of the next-level work.
    • Focus & Prepare: The employee is highly competent and is interested in roles of increased complexity and responsibility. Employee needs advancement of specific knowledge, skills, or experience to be successful in the next role.
    • Share Their Knowledge: Employee is well placed in their role; their competencies, behaviors, and interests fit their current role and responsibilities. The employee demonstrates the ability for positions of increased scope and responsibility but is not looking for advancement.
    • Support in Current Role: Employee has not yet demonstrated abilities to indicate potential, success, preparedness, or aspiration for increased complexity or responsibility beyond their current role. Employees may be transitioning into or out of a new role or scope of responsibilities.
    • Role Realignment Needed: The employee is not likely to be successful in the role. Employee may be missing competencies or lack abilities required; may not be engaged in their current role and other roles may need to be explored.
  5. POTENTIAL STATUS. For those organizations who track their “high potential” designations, this should be part of any succession or talent planning function that follows a performance assessment period. “High potential” or “hi-po” is often used to describe individuals with the ability, aspiration, and commitment to succeed in more senior, critical positions who also demonstrate a rapid ability to develop. In order to leverage this type of designation in a more inclusive way, leaders could classify those whose development is considered “Ahead of Pace” separately from those whose development is “On Pace”. Both statuses should receive equitable development planning to support career aspirations and organizational growth needs. Here are some examples:
    • Career Progression Alignment: Align development plans with individuals’ career aspirations and organizational success needs.
    • Continuous Assessment: Regularly reassess individuals’ progress to ensure alignment with organizations goals and adjust development plans accordingly.
    • Feedback Mechanism: Establish feedback mechanism to provide ongoing guidance and support for individuals’ development.
    • Mentoring and Coaching: Provide mentorship and coaching opportunities to facilitate the growth and development of high-potential individuals.
    • Succession Integration: Integrate high-potential development plants into the broader succession planning framework to ensure alignment with organizational goals and future leadership needs.
    • Measuring Success: Define clear metrics to measure the success of high-potential development programs and adjust as needed.

Succession planning is important for any organization, especially those that are in growth mode. Focusing on the key succession indicators by role and individual, critical skills, performance, talent status, and potential status is a good way to review the possible gaps now, and in the future.

At Exude Human Capital our team of experts are here to share best practices as we review strategies that support your unique organization. We know that the best human resources consulting solutions are custom-designed to meet each client’s needs. For more information on Exude Human Capital Consulting and to schedule a complementary 30-minute consultation with one of our experienced professionals CONTACT US.