THE MAGAZINE

Succession Management: A Structured Approach

By Mark Tarallo

Through this data, profiles of top performers at each position at Dunbar can be constructed. “We let the data drive the profile,” DeCaro says. This can be valuable when building a succession plan for critical positions; if the highest-performing branch managers tend to have high scores on certain traits, then Dunbar can look for employees who match that profile and tag them as potential future branch managers. 

The assessment data can be used toward other purposes as well. An assessment test can be part of the application process for new employees, to see if their profile resembles that of the company’s strong performers. Assessment data can also be used to help underperformers as it gives a manager insight into the specific behavioral areas where a “falling star” may fall short.

The information can also be used in designing career development programs; if a promising employee aspires to be promoted to a certain position, the manager can let him or her know what attributes are common among those who perform well in that position, and a training program can be formulated with that in mind.

EARLY RESULTS

While Dunbar’s system is still fairly new, initial feedback has been positive, and employee engagement is up, executives say. “The promote-from-within philosophy has always been there. Now we feel like we’re getting traction and structure on the philosophy,” says Valencia. Executives say the program’s positive effects are evident in a few different ways.

First, employee engagement is on the rise. “Just from the number of internal candidates who recently have applied for positions—that number has picked up substantially,” Schaub says. Although it’s likely that other factors are helping to drive this increase, the new system seems to be a key factor, Schaub adds.

From management’s point of view, the new system has reduced the amount of uncertainty that goes into promotion decisions and given those doing the hiring more confidence that they are making the right choice. “With this quantitative process, I am comfortable that when we say to someone, ‘you’re ready to go,’ that they’re ready to go. As opposed to, ‘you know, I think you would do okay with this, let’s see what happens,’” Silverman says.

And for employees, the new system provides much more clarity and guidance on how to take advantage of Dunbar’s longstanding promote-from-within philosophy, executives say.

“We always say ‘Promotion from within; promotion from within.’ But before, I think, people were always thinking, ‘How do I get to be in the position so that I am the person who is promoted from within?’ Now, there’s a formal process for it,” Silverman says.

Mark Tarallo is a senior editor at Security Management.

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