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Planning backup for essential skills

 I hope we are now all thinking of holidays?

Xmas is done, we are all back in the flow, so to keep the motivation going as we get used to being back in the workplace, many of us start to plan where we are going to go for our vacations. Advertisers know this evidently, and our TV screens are flooded with alluring locations.

And do you know, I haven't met one person who travels abroad without insurance? Mark Twain once said: “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  It seems that we think that way most of the time, except for holidays, when we ensure we are insured up to the eyeballs.

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Ensuring backup for essential skills

'Mind the Gap' is a familiar phrase repeated to passengers on London Underground.

Passengers respond and go about their daily travel safely. If that same phrase were repeated again and again within an organisation it too might respond. Potential future gaps in those job roles seen as critical to business success would be identified and successors developed ready to fill them. Living with the gap or filling the gap with the wrong person erodes what we may call 'Institutional Memory'.

Institutional memory is becoming something which managers need to increasingly address. Costs of production and service delivery have often been cut and slashed to the bone, and the cost of skills replacement is one area that can offer further cost reduction opportunities. Cost reduction opportunities are scarce, but the development of Institutional Memory offers a huge area of cost saving.

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Professional succession planning and motivation

I think I must have been around 5 years old when I first heard the poem ‘remember remember the 5th of November….’. Of course I figured it was a poem to remember fireworks night, hot dogs and bonfires rather than Guy Fawkes. Life is simple as a kid.

A connected phrase one comes across as an adult is “Don’t re-invent the wheel”. This phrase is used to help us focus on setting up shared best practice etc.

So, beginning in childhood all the way through to adulthood, we are taught ways to remember stuff so we don't have to start all over again every time something changes. So, when we come to Succession Planning, why do we regularly get ourselves caught out with re-inventing wheels when employees inevitably depart?

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Succession planning - backup for essential skills

I have the pleasure of working with people who have not had paid work for some time due to either parenting/caring responsibilities, or in some cases redundancy. They are a very diverse group of individuals  from those who have had well-paid executive jobs through to those who have had little work experience. They certainly teach me as much as I teach them about the world we live in.

They have one thing in common which is the determination to succeed. They are all looking at opening a business linked to a particular technical skill they have.  The application of their technical skill is the easy part of their business. It is the business skills of finance, marketing, sales, IT and HR alongside their personal skills, values and required behaviours which will dictate their business success. If any of these are absent from the mix, their self-employed success dream will remain just that.

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Why do we need professional succession planning?

Working life seems to be going at an ever increasing pace. The joys of competition mean constant change. Customer demand is increasing through rising customer communications and awareness. Crazy change is here to stay!

When I got into sales and negotiations work some time back now, I learned something very early on, and that was that if I HAD to have a deal I was vulnerable. The best sales guys seemed not to NEED the sale. When you need a deal, others seem to sense your vulnerability and in turn begin to apply pressure on you. The best bit of preparation for any negotiation is to prepare somewhere to go if the negotiation fails. Then you know you can walk away to somewhere positive. Roger Fisher and William L. Ury in their classic ‘Getting to Yes’ call this a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement).

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