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Succession planning using The Predictive Index: part 1

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Does your organization have a game plan for when a senior leader steps down or moves on?

Studies show that most companies don’t have a formalized succession plan—and that lack of planning can be detrimental to a business. 

Succession planning can seem scary. Especially in organizations with strong, admirable leaders, no one wants to think about a future without the existing leadership team. Think of succession planning like estate planning: Creating the plan doesn’t mean something’s going to happen tomorrow, but it’s the smart thing to do for long-term protection. 

While your competitors are focusing on short-term goals, set yourself up for continuous success by creating a succession game plan.

In this blog, you’ll learn how businesses use The Predictive Index® for simple, effective succession planning.

Step 1: Set a Job Target for key roles.

PI users get unlimited access to the PI Job Assessment™, which they send to 3-5 stakeholders. The stakeholders provide input on the behavioral traits and cognitive abilities required to thrive in a role. The result of this assessment is a Job Target™. 

You can create a Job Target for each position you want to plan for (e.g., future CEO, future COO, etc.).

Job Target

When completing the Job Assessment, ask stakeholders to base their input off the ideal candidate—not the incumbent. You don’t want bias influencing the outcome. You’re not looking for an exact replica of your current executive, but rather a set of characteristics that would lead to success in the role. 

You can even create multiple versions of the Job Target based on different audiences, such as the executive team and mid-level managers. This will allow you to see where there’s alignment in expectations of the role—and where there may be misalignment.

Step 2: Identify employees who are a good match for the position.

You may have a few high potential individuals in mind for the role—but don’t stop there. Look for other employees who are a match for the job. In the software, you can click the tab “Other Matches for the Job” to see which employees in your organization meet the behavioral needs of the role. (Note: Only employees who have completed the PI Behavioral Assessment™ will show up as potential matches.)

One of the biggest mistakes senior leaders make when succession planning is falling prey to the halo effect—the tendency for a positive perception of a person to influence opinions. Remember: there’s a lot more that goes into being an executive than just being someone people like. Your ideal candidates need to be behaviorally and cognitively wired to succeed in the role.

Step 3: Take a look at how your bench aligns with strategic goals.

Just because someone meets the behavioral and cognitive requirements of the role doesn’t mean they’re wired to execute the strategic initiatives your business will focus on in the future.

In the PI software, you can pull those candidates into Team Work Styles™ to see how behaviorally well-suited they are to execute strategic activities. For example, if your company wants to cut down on waste and increase reliability, you’ll want stabilizing, process-driven leaders to oversee the execution of those activities. (Learn about the Competing Values Framework and the creation of the Team Work Styles quadrants here.)

Stabilizing Team Work Styles

This additional insight will help you select the 2-3 key employees best-suited for the position so you can start developing them into future leaders.

Keep in mind that these employees may not end up in those executive positions—but they may end up in other leadership roles. And as your organization grows, your need for leaders grows with it.

Step 4: Build your bench strength.

A Harvard Business Review article shared succession planning takes years, not months. As you’re looking toward the future, you want to make sure the next level of leaders is ready for what could be thrown at them. Don’t wait until there’s a need to start identifying and developing future leaders. 

Create a development plan for your bench. Start assigning them projects to see how they perform. Put them into a workshop for emerging leaders. Create a mentorship program where they can learn from key leaders in the organization the business skills and soft skills needed to succeed in a more senior position.

Step 5: Make sure your succession planning process encompasses the entire company.

While most think of succession planning in terms of senior leadership positions, it’s something you should be doing across the organization.

According to the 2019 Employee Engagement Report, one of the top drivers of turnover is a lack of career development opportunities. Employees are looking for chances to learn, grow, and advance in the organization. By offering career development opportunities, you not only engage existing employees, but you also get the chance to identify and groom employees to move into other leadership positions throughout the organization.

Make succession simpler.

Go beyond replacement planning with a true succession management plan. The Predictive Index can help. 

Join 10,000 companies solving the most complex people problems with PI.

Hire the right people, inspire their best work, design dream teams, and sustain engagement for the long haul.

Michelle is an account executive at PI.

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