Succession Management: A Structured Approach

By Mark Tarallo

In addition, Dunbar executives wanted the new system to be proactive, so that strong candidates would be lined up for positions before jobs became open. They wanted the system to offer more training programs that were custom-tailored to the needs and goals of individual employees. They wanted the system to break down silos, so that employees could move easily from position to position and department to department within the firm. But they did not want the new system to be a budget-buster. “In the security industry, you need to be keenly aware of costs because the business has fairly tight margins,” Schaub says.

The company decided to use the human capital management system Workday, based in Pleasanton, California, which provides enterprise cloud applications for various HR functions. Workday mines and analyzes data from performance reviews, employee profiles, assessment tests, and other organizational systems.


The basic building block of Dunbar’s new succession management system is the company’s longstanding practice of identifying employees with strong promotion potential. After a performance evaluation is completed and signed by both employee and manager, the manager rates the employee in one of three categories: rising star, middle star, or falling star. To be a rising star, the employee must achieve at least an aggregate score of four out of five on the performance sections of the evaluation, Silverman says. But beyond strong current performance, rising stars must also demonstrate future potential.

“You may be the world’s greatest ‘insert your position here,’ but if I don’t think you will be a leader, you might not be a rising star,” Silverman says. The most recent metrics for the program indicated that 15 percent of employees were categorized as “rising,” 65 percent as “middle,” and 20 percent as “falling.”

A manager’s designation of a rising star employee, however, is only considered a nomination. Rising star nominees are then asked to complete a talent profile and résumé, which are fed into Workday. The profile includes information on willingness to relocate, leadership experience, specialized skills, and future goals. The manager discusses the nomination with the regional vice president; if it survives, it goes to the senior vice president of operations for the final decision.

Besides the star rating, managers also rate each employee on the degree to which they are a “flight risk.” This rating indicates whether the employee is likely to stay with the company and the degree to which the loss would affect the company. The flight risk rating gives the company an early opportunity to showcase its offerings to promising employees who may be on the fence about staying. For example, a rising star who has tentative aspirations to pursue a law enforcement career might be open to staying with Dunbar once they hear of potential career opportunities.

Once a rising star nomination is approved, the employee and manager work together to design a custom-tailored career development program, which takes into account the career goals of the employee and needs of the company. Such a program may include classes and training seminars, mentoring sessions, and on-the-job exposure to higher positions.



The Magazine — Past Issues


Beyond Print

SM Online

See all the latest links and resources that supplement the current issue of Security Management magazine.