Guide 500 Tips for Developing a Learning Organization (500 Tips)

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In fact, an increasing number of companies are making employees themselves responsible for keeping the data in their personnel files up-to-date. To curb the urge to exaggerate experience, supervisors review the plans. We identified six organizations that had achieved a high degree of success in succession management—Dell, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, PanCanadian Petroleum, Sonoco Products, and Bank of America—and compared their best-practice approaches with those of the sponsoring companies.

We used two principal methods to gather information across the two samples: detailed questionnaires to collect quantitative data and site visits that included in-depth interviews. Our objective was to understand how the best-practice companies differed in their approaches to succession management and to learn more broadly about trends and challenges in the field. A few companies even allow people to know exactly where they stand in the succession system.

Employees, who were accustomed to candor and transparency, found the system overly authoritarian, so they refused to participate. In the end, the company gave employees unrestricted access to their own information. Most companies elect to limit transparency in some way. To achieve transparency, companies need systems that are simple and easy to use, with immediate but secure access for participants. Technology—and in particular the Internet—is a powerful enabler. With the information directly in front of employees, succession management becomes less another planning event and more an ongoing activity.

They also use it as a general querying and reporting tool. For example, HR managers can download a report showing what marketing positions are available in Europe, which candidates are being groomed for such positions anywhere in the world, and any skill gaps that might make it difficult to fill the jobs. The system also lets managers download statistics on the talent pipelines, such as the ratio of potentials to incumbents, specific data related to gender and ethnicity, and the percentage of employees with international and cross-functional experience. With the ability to search for multiple criteria, HR managers can view any segment of the organization with one query—from functional views like marketing to geographical regions like Latin America.

Like Lilly, most of the best-practice companies we studied now rely on Web-based succession management tools to promote greater transparency and ease of use. At Dow Chemical, employees nominate themselves for positions online, and if a hiring manager has a preferred candidate, he or she must state this along with the posting.

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Some companies even show compensation ranges by level and position. No longer is it sufficient to know who could replace the CEO; instead, you must know whether the right people are moving at the right pace into the right jobs at the right time. The ultimate goal is to ensure a solid slate of candidates for the top job. But when succession plans were consolidated at the corporate level, a single employee, Roger Jones, was found to be the potential successor for most of the key jobs at the company.

Sonoco now requires each division to generate most of its own successors from within. Frequent checks throughout the year can reveal potential problems before they flare up. One telling test of a succession management system is the extent to which an organization can fill important positions with internal candidates.


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An outside hire for a role that is critical at either the functional or corporate level is considered a failure in the internal development process. For positions at the director level and above, the system shows the employee who currently holds the position as well as three potential successors. HR management can also access real-time data on a number of prescribed measurement areas, such as the ratio of employees with potential to reach a certain level to incumbents at that level. There are goal ratios for each level of management for example, for the director level.


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The succession plan metrics also help the company identify gaps more broadly. With the click of a button, managers can learn how many ready-now candidates the company has for its top positions. Where there are none, that information triggers a search for internal development opportunities as well as executive recruitment activities. Lilly can also uncover hidden vulnerabilities by determining how many employees are on more than three succession plans as ready-now candidates.

Using a quarterly scorecard, the company tracks progress on goals and positional and pipeline data, diversity elements gender, race, ethnicity , job rotations, and turnover rates. HR reviews the scorecard and then shares it with the executive team. Both processes need multiple owners—not just HR but the CEO and employees at all levels—if an organization is to develop a healthy and sustainable pipeline of leaders. Without active commitment at the very top—as well as from the executive team—managers will sense that succession management is a tangential activity and may not commit to the program.

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In fact, division executives may hide and hoard talented employees by manipulating their assessments. He owns the talent management process and holds business unit heads personally responsible for meeting development objectives within their units, with the expectation that the bar will constantly be raised.

But it is not realistic or desirable for CEOs and their executive teams to have sole responsibility for the development of talent and leadership. Both corporate HR and functional or regional HR heads need to be involved. Corporate HR provides standards, tools, and processes, and functional or regional HR people make sure that local units abide by the rules and customize them as appropriate. Certain elements of the system are not negotiable, such as the look and feel of reports and information, the timing of roll-up reports, replacement charts, and the rating system.

Then, the HR people within each line of business, working with the leaders of those organizations, may add a few technical or functional competencies to the list. Local HR also helps prepare the unit heads for the talent review meeting and manages the process at a local level. Board members should also be involved.

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But in this process, board members are often exposed to candidates only through formal presentations, and those candidates are usually handpicked by the CEO. That leaves the succession decision up to one person—and his or her judgment may be seriously impaired by the wish to leave a positive legacy or the refusal to accept impending retirement. At Bank of America, CEO Ken Lewis meets every summer with his top 24 executives to review the organizational health of their businesses, including the talent pipeline. The meetings are personal in nature, with no presentation decks or thick books outlining HR procedures.

But they are rigorous. During these conversations, they make specific commitments regarding current or potential leaders—identifying the next assignment, special projects, promotions, and the like. Forgot Password?

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Enter your email to reset your password. Or sign up using:. New member? Sign up now. Sign in if you're already registered. How to better understand your target audience, generate new sales leads, and focusing on getting more revenue from existing clientele. Elizabeth Wasserman is editor of Inc. Based in the Washington, D.

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You can get to know your customers and segment the market any number of ways including by: Demographics -- statistical data on a population including income levels, age, etc. Psychographics -- the attitudes and tastes of a certain demographic. Ethnographics -- examination of particular cultures.

Buying habits -- how, what and where customers purchase products and services. This is telemarketing without the call center. It's a blind contact with a potential customer who isn't expecting a pitch. Customer leads can be picked up through scouring newspaper articles or items, lists of leads that are culled by a third-party, or paying attention to people or businesses moving into your turf.

We suggest that they set a goal -- this is how many new people they will talk to this week. This can be done the old-fashioned way, by getting involved in community organizations, such as the chamber of commerce, or attending business functions, such as trade shows.

Social functions -- dinner invitations, book clubs, etc. Networking has also taken a 21st Century twist on the Internet, with the rise in popularity of such websites as LinkedIn , Facebook , and Plaxo. Many businesses find that this type of networking, making contacts through friends or former colleagues, can lead to new customers. Develop champions of your products. Use business contacts who have been happy with your products to help generate references and referrals.

Once you have sold to them, customers can help you sell to others by offering positive testimonials and leveraging a refer-a-friend campaign created by your business. This technique also employs word-of-mouth marketing. Help customers help you by giving them the ammunition they need to tell your story to others. Affiliate marketing. Look at non-competitive products or services that are reaching out to the same audiences to see if there are ways you can collaborate through shared outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings online and offline or co-branding opportunities.

You probably can uncover a handful of like-minded products or services that are talking to your customers, Arnof-Fenn says.

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Suggest to these business owners ways your businesses can support each other. Your customers will see joint efforts as a value-added opportunity to reinforce their choice of brands. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Items related to Tips for Developing a Learning Organization. Publisher: Crest Publishing House , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

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