People First HR Services

Progressive Career Development Practices – a case study

Bev Braun-Allard

In a recent global study, more than 60% of companies cite “leadership gaps” as their top business challenge. I’ll assume this isn’t news to you. You’re probably losing sleep yourself over an aging employee populations ie. your baby boomers, and your own succession planning challenges. You’re probably worried about how you’re going to deal with the loss of skills, knowledge and experience that is inevitable when a senior leader leaves the organization.

Teams-Bridge-Gap-XSmallAsk yourself this. Is it inevitable? Do you have to lose the skills, knowledge and experience of your most valued employees?

Not necessarily. Not if you start to look at the problem from a different perspective. Not if you collaborate with your Baby Boomers on alternatives to full retirement. Progressive career development practices can help you manage your leadership gaps in an effective way. Let me give you an example from close to home…….here in the Career Management division of People First HR.

There are two stories here. The first is my own. I was brought into the business some years ago as a potential successor candidate to the Vice President of the division. What happened though as I got more and more involved in the career development side of our work, I realized my strengths, interests, values and lifestyle priorities really align well with the work I’m doing now, but aren’t so well aligned with a senior leadership role. I know from experience, my own and that of others, that fit and alignment is important. Fit allows you do to your best work, feel your most satisfied and engaged, and ensures your best contribution to the business. Knowing that, I made the decision that pursuing the next level up wasn’t right for me, or for People First. As a result, we recognized we had a leadership gap of our own to fill.

Here’s the next part of the story – an example of a progressive career development practice. Through dialogue, it became clear the solution for a successor didn’t mean we needed to lose the skills, knowledge and experience of the most senior member of our team at all.

Many of you may know Eileen Kirton, and may know of the work she did to build our division from the ground up. You may also have heard we’ve filled the position of VP, Career Management just recently – the role Eileen has held since 2002 when the division was formed. So what’s the back story? Eileen continues to be a contributing member of the division, but now is working with us in a different capacity. We’re calling what she’s done downshifting, and it’s a perfect example of a win-win-win. Eileen has reduced her hours to three days a week in order to focus on her lifestyle priorities – a downshift in time and role, but still a strong contributor. She’s using her talents in the division to support senior individuals in transition and continues to be a vital part of our business development team, partnering with companies on their career transition/outplacement needs. Alex Herriot, our new VP, has taken on the role of division leader but can draw on Eileen’s skills, knowledge and experience while he learns the Career Management side of People First. The company wins, because we won’t skip a beat in our division. Our valued clients will continue to be well served, and all of us – Eileen, Alex and I will be working in a capacity that fits our strengths, interests, values and lifestyle priorities. Like I said, a win-win-win.

Progressive career development practices like this and others can be the solution to your company’s succession challenges.  If your company is currently tackling this challenge in a progressive way, I’d really like to hear about it. If you’re interested to hear how we could help you look at things differently, I’d love to connect to chat with you about it.