Development and retention of top talent for leadership roles is an ongoing activity and can’t be looked at in isolation or as a one-off event
We are dealing with knowledge workers who are well educated with huge aspirations and humongous potential. We can’t curb their growth needs. Organizations that build internal cadres have to be extra sensitive to these factors, especially since the expectations for the internal growth are very high. Ideally, if a culture is set that there will be some infusion of external talent at all levels, while internal talent is taken care of, the problems are likely to be lesser.
Retired leaders getting back into the corporation for specific projects or as coaches and mentors is less likely to create an upheaval. Such moves to help the organization navigate through difficult times may be seen as a welcome step. Before any critical move like what is stated in the first case above is made, careful consideration to the organizational dynamics is a must. Unfortunately, in most cases, emotional decisions are made and that can be counterproductive.
Now let us look at the case of 20 leaders being given out-of-turn promotions. First and the foremost, we have to keep in mind that promotion is a method to fill a vacancy and not to accommodate the people. We have to build organizations around roles/structures and not around people. The person has to be ready to perform effectively on the role he/she is getting promoted to. If we promote people just to retain them without the commensurate role change and the associated capabilities to perform on the new role, we are likely to see a poor performance over time. This will also damage the cultural fabric and create wrong expectations. Such out of turn promotees are likely to use similar mechanism to retain their teams.
Development and retention of top talent for leadership roles is an ongoing activity and can’t be looked at in isolation or as a one-off event. Identifying the right person for a role is crucial. Different capabilities are required at different times for the same role. During a downturn, we need different leadership capabilities and during the growth phase very different capabilities. The management has to ensure careful consideration is given to the job description as well as the current environment and the situation before making promotion decisions. One should not hesitate to infuse external talent, even at the top if the internal right people are not available.