The Intersection Between Planning and Engagement

Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D. Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D.

May 14, 2024 Blog
Employee engagement at work

Research backs up the popular adage: “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Leadership consulting firm DDI reports that 57% of people have quit a job because of a boss. Culture Amp, an employee engagement and culture firm, argues the phenomenon is more about leadership than management.

The fact is, managers and leadership play a critical role in engaging the right talent. One way to accomplish this engagement is through planning — specifically through progression and succession planning. This blog examines the relationship between succession and progression planning and employee engagement.

Alliance for Lifetime Income reports that more people will reach the age of 65 in 2024 than in any other year in history. Baby boomers are retiring and organizations have to replace these people in the workforce. As a society, we’re not particularly good at planning for replacements.

I’ve coached about 2,000 leaders in my tenure and I’d estimate about four out of five of them can’t answer where they’ll be in 3-5 years. This isn’t great for the future of our organizations, and it’s up to current leaders to plan for progression and succession with their employees.

Progression Planning

Progression planning is a series of conversations leaders should have with their employees, discussing how the employees can get what they need out of their career at the organization. Maybe the employee has an eventual goal to be in a specific role. Maybe they want to learn more about a certain subject.

Progression planning requires leaders to learn what their employees want out of their careers and help them put a plan in place to get there. Our Career Investment Discussion guide can help you have these conversations.

Not everyone has the ambition to be in the C-suite or is cut out for leadership, so progression planning is particularly important to ensure each employee has a direction and stays engaged in the process.

Succession Planning

Succession planning goes hand-in-hand with progression planning, but it is different. It’s thinking about and setting up a plan for who can lead after the current leaders retire. This isn’t just the process of identifying who’s next in line. It’s also getting them ready for the position. About 60% of organizations have succession planning in mind, but KPMG reports that only about 14% actually have a plan.

Assessing talent and then investing in it are the two most critical steps in succession planning and will dictate who runs your company in 10 years. Talent+Ready is an assessment tool that can help determine who has the natural talent to lead and who is ready for promotion.

If you have a strong succession plan, you’ll see stronger engagement and satisfaction on the team. According to Deloitte, succession planning fosters employee engagement. This isn’t because they know who their leader will be. It’s because they see their organization investing in them and their fellow employees.

If we go back to the idea that people leave managers/leaders, not jobs, you can see why it’s important for leaders to have solid communication and relationships with their employees. Leaders are the catalyst for identifying people’s strengths and keeping employees engaged. Focusing on what employees do well, leaders can progression plan and succession plan, investing in employees in ways they want for their careers, retaining them for the long term and planning for what the company needs for its future.

I want to share an example with you. We have a healthcare client whose CHRO left. There were 55 people on her team. Before she left, she did a Career Investment Discussion and a Talent+Ready assessment with each person on her team. With these solutions, she identified one person as ready to grow into a leadership role. She helped her grow, and now that individual is the lead candidate for the CHRO job.

Throughout this process, the CHRO’s team didn’t lose any other managers, which speaks deeply to the engagement piece. When people trust their leadership, they feel more engaged at work.

Both progression and succession planning have a positive impact on employee engagement. Leaders should clearly understand their team members’ career goals and invest in their development. Together, planning and engagement help an organization thrive.

If you’re ready to collaborate with employees to plan your organization’s future, our suite of solutions can help. Consider using Talent+Ready to evaluate employees’ readiness for leadership positions.

Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D.

Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D.

Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D. is the Director of Leadership Analytics at Talent Plus where his role is to partner with, listen to and find solutions for our clients, their teams and organization. With an emphasis on strengths, through selection and development, he helps our clients find success on their Talent-Based Journey.

“I focus on the strength management approach to help grow leaders and improve team and organization cultures.” – Scott Whiteford

Talents: Relationship, Ego Drive, Focus, Conceptualization and Intelligence

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