The Importance and Value of Succession Planning

I’m a firm believer that there is a science to a lot of management. The reason there are books that provide guidance for managing better is because following the strategies and suggestions contained therein are often helpful, and we are continually learning more about people and how they work and what motivates them. But I have begun to think that succession planning is more art than science. That doesn’t make it less important to prioritize, it just makes it harder and requires more deliberation and practice. There are some solid tips that can help, but you’ll need to think a lot about it and begin to hone your instincts on this subject.

Succession planning is necessary in two different instances: either you need to plan to replace a subordinate, or you need to plan to replace yourself. And you should have a plan in mind for every employee you have, even if the plan is relatively simplistic. As the axiom goes, plans are worthless, but planning is essential. The situation will change often, and your plans will need updated too, but if you fail to plan you’ll be caught with a gap in your staff’s capabilities that could be devastating.

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Maybe a bit less spring in the step will do

Jeremy and I took personality tests at work a few weeks ago, and one of the statements made about my personality had to do with self-awareness. In particular, the person writing the personality profile observed that people like me sometimes come across as arrogant, but that this trait is rarely true arrogance. Rather, it is a self-assurance that comes from secure knowledge about oneself. I know what I know, and I am also aware of what I do not know. Therefore, I am very self-confident in the areas I feel knowledgeable about.

One of these is public speaking, which I have been doing for a number of years in a variety of arenas. Therefore, when my boss asked me to attend Train the Trainer Training (T3) this week, I had no problem doing so. Conducting training is a large part of what I do week-to-week, and I expected this to be a boring training class like all the others, taking up a large chunk of my time and leaving me to rush around in the day and a half I had left after it was finished and try to catch up. In this case, it turned out that I did not know what I thought I did.

The class was quite good, and I learned a great deal about training methods, learning theories, classroom behaviours… but the most enlightening moment came when it was time for my presentation. At the close of the training, we were each required to give a fifteen minute presentation, preferably on something relating to Banner. I had chosen to speak on how we were handling Banner support at Missouri State, and after developing some talking points and writing a list of objectives, I felt prepared enough. I’ve spoken before groups countless times before, and this was only fifteen minutes, so it should have been a breeze.

And then, once I started speaking, I stumbled. I said, “Um,” a lot. I had some painful seconds of silence where my mind had all but frozen. As I analyze my presentation in retrospect, I know why these things happened and can easily correct for them (they’re problem areas I’ve defined in the past, in fact, and have corrected for previously, but was unable to in this case due to time/preparation constraints), but that doesn’t change the fact that I gave a pretty terrible speech. What’s worse, I gave a terrible speech after volunteering that I had years of public speaking experience and intimated that this was all old-hat.

As I walked home this afternoon, I felt humiliated, but not in a shameful way. Rather, I felt brought back to the level at which I should have begun. I was showing off earlier this week when I commented on my speaking experience. I was placing myself at the head of the table, when my presentation showed that I deserved a seat further down. I was claiming to be first, and in so doing, I became last.

If I had been humble to begin with, the speech would have been fine on its own. Points of improvement were obvious, but as things stand, I look like a hypocrite or a liar. I claimed a level of proficiency that was not demonstrated. And because I did not humble myself, humility found me.

To be honest, though, as the realization of my humiliation really set in while I walked home, I was kind of excited. I learned a lesson, and I think I have the potential to put myself in a better place in the future. The lesson of humility, the virtue of being humble, is not one that comes easy to me. Throughout my life, I have striven to be better than the example I was given, but I was never taught the difference between being better and claiming to be better. What I mean is that, one can be better without needing to make that superiority evident or obvious. These two need not occur together, and it is the humble person who can be excellent without exclamation.

I want to strive for humility. I don’t want to have it handed to me again.

It must be my lucky day

I’m pushing everything else down so I can put this question/announcement at the top and therefore garner more attention for it. Do you need something for your apartment? Plates? Silverware? Pots and pans? A knife set in a block? Bar stools, blankets, sheets, baking pans, etc. etc.? We have a ton of stuff in our dining room we’re looking to get rid of, so please, please contact me. Some of it is brand new, we just can’t return it to Target. Contact me.

It’s past 9 a.m. and I’m just now turning my computer on. For those of you who don’t know, my job is in Computer Services at a major university and I, perhaps unsurprisingly, spend the vast majority of my time working at a computer. This morning, however, I got to move computers across campus. About 20 computers, monitors, cables, etc. It’s better than when we had to move tables, I suppose.Kaldis has replaced Churchills here on campus for the local coffee shop. I haven’t been a fan of Churchills for a while because their baked goods had sucked ever since the new manager took over about two years ago… but Kaldis is worse. If you’re a coffee shop and your coffee just isn’t that good, then you’re not doing something right. They won’t have baked goods until next week, so they might yet redeem themselves. As for me, I’ll stick with the coffee pot in my office, I think.

Not to sound all grumpy and complaining, but an extremely brief vent about yesterday: classes on programs largely unrelated to my job, taught in a way that is almost completely irrelevant to me, are not helpful at all. Especially when I don’t have access to the program in question, as I’m a very hands-on learner. Thankfully, I appear to have been able to dodge the class today.

On the bright side, I turned on a media player that comes with Linux today and discovered pre-programmed radio channels. It’s nice to randomly have classical music on without trying. Also, I received the photos from the wedding yesterday, so I’ll hopefully get those online this weekend. The video will follow in a month or two. Photos will be in the gallery, but if you want to see the video, you’ll have to contact me directly; I’ll have it in a password protected FTP folder for download.

I know, this is a horribly rambling entry. I’ve been kind of scatterbrained since my mind was broiled yesterday by boredom. Hopefully better writings/ramblings will come tomorrow.