Do You Really Need to Manage the Different Generations Differently?
Special Note to Those Upset at the Blurring Line Between Work and Life...

Should You Tell An Employee That They Are Part of a Talent Pool For Succession?

Only if you feel like retaining them, which is an honest, if somewhat ironic answer.

Anyway, this question was one of the topics for a recent roundtable sponsored by Halogen Software (the HR Raging Debates Roundtable), one of my favorite vendors in the Talent Management sotware space.  The roundtable participants include thought leaders: Josh Bersin, President and CEO, Bersin & Associates; Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at The Wharton School; David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research; Kris Dunn, VP of People, DAXKO and blogger at HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent (WHO?); RichardRaging_promo_badge_250x250 Hadden, author of the Contented Cows leadership books; Lance Haun, Vice President of Outreach, MeritBuilder and blogger at Rehaul; Sharlyn Lauby, President, Internal Talent Management Group and blogger at HR Bartender; Ed Lawler, Distinguished Professor of Business at the Marshall School of Business; Laurie Ruettimann, Blogger at PunkRock HR; and Libby Sartain, former CHRO of Yahoo! Inc. and Southwest Airlines, author, and HR advisor. 

It's a cool series, so go check it out.

Here's one of the topics that interested me - not because we haven't talked enough about it, but because I was interested to see what the others would say:

Should you tell an employee that they are part of a talent pool for succession?

Here's my answer:

"Yes. You should also tell them you like their teeth better than the others as well.

On a serious note, I think you need to tell talent they’re included in the succession plan if you have one. One of the big benefits to succession planning is retention if people know they’re on the list. Imagine the following conversation:

You: Rick just resigned.

Your CEO: Wasn’t he the next up for the controller role?

You: Yes.

CEO: Why did he leave if he knew he was up next and Pirkle (current controller) is getting ready for the stretch role in strategy?

You: Well, because we wanted to be fair and ensure that people who aren’t a part of the succession plan feel OK about themselves, we decided not to tell people who are a part of the succession plan that they are on the list.

CEO: What if I didn’t tell you you’re in danger of being fired? Would that be fair?

So, here’s the bottom line. I know there are lots of employee relations issues related to telling talent they’re a part of the succession plan, but you have to do it. You have the plan (at least partly) for them. So tell them."

Go check out the responses of Sartain, Cappelli, etc. for this and other questions at the Halogen Software HR Raging Debates Roundtable.  See how I stack up. And vote me up while you're there. 





Don't most of the fears we have about telling people the good things about their career revolve around "what if he tells someone?" - some of the mistakes in business that I see are due to lack of transparency in the places we need it, and in not treating employees as responsible adults (we feel we have to "care" for them, when they are perfectly capable of doing that for themselves)

I'm with you on this Kris. People need to know. They plan their lives, just like those who make the decisions do.


It is important that all employees know where they stand. When we tell those on a company succession plan we also need to tell those that are not and why.

I always hear complaints by management that our leaders do not always act like adults. Well, that means we need to treat them like adults. That means sharing the good news and the bad. These can be uncomforitable conversations, but they are neccessary if you want a healthy organization.

The comments to this entry are closed.