How to Choose Which Development Opportunity to Focus on First

For any succession plan to be effective, it’s important to have a strategy in place for cultivating talent. Identifying development opportunities is also a crucial part of succession planning. This means taking the time to create an individualized development plan (IDP) for each succession candidate, so they know what they need to do in order to grow. That’s why developing talent is highlighted as a key step in SIGMA’s Simple Succession Planning Process.

Whether you’re a succession candidate looking for help to grow, a leader aiming to develop their staff, or member of HR supporting employees, it can be difficult to know where to start when creating an IDP. First, it’s important to review assessment results and compare them against the Success Profile for the role the succession candidate is being considered for. By doing this, you’ll be able to identify gaps that can become the focus of development. After that, you can begin to formulate a plan around each opportunity.

When creating your plan, remember that trying to make progress towards several goals at once can be overwhelming. Instead, we recommend starting the development process by selecting one or two key opportunities and focusing efforts on these areas. Once you see success in these areas, IDPs can be expanded to address other gaps.

Below, we outline several criteria to consider when selecting which development opportunity to focus on first.

Impact

It may go without saying, but the competency you choose should be one that has a significant impact. This means that you’re likely to see the benefits of your efforts in more than one area. When exploring a specific development opportunity’s impact, consider its influence on your personal and professional goals, as well as your team’s. Thinking about the long-term strategy of your company can also be a useful exercise to make sure you’re putting effort into the development of future competencies.

Opportunities

When selecting an area of focus, reflecting on and identifying the development opportunities available for each competency is very important. Can you determine specific situations where the competency can be demonstrated or practiced? Selecting development goals that have ample opportunities available can ensure that you have a chance to engage in behaviors that leverage the underlying ability.

Support

As anyone who has set personal or professional development goals will know, making an effort to change your behavior is just that – effortful. It’s a process that requires you to challenge yourself do to things beyond your current abilities. Being successful is partly a function of the support you receive throughout the process. Set yourself up for success by choosing a development opportunity for which you have considerable support. Additionally, consider what resources, tools, or training programs are available. Can you identify a role model or mentor who excels in the area you’d like to focus on? Can people around you provide you with constructive feedback as you work through the development process?

Demand

Finally, when selecting a development opportunity, determine the demand for the underlying competency within your company, industry, or profession. Focusing on areas that are in high demand by a number of stakeholders can increase the return of investment on your development efforts.

How SIGMA Can Help

At SIGMA, we want to help your company effectively plan for succession. For more information on our Succession Planning solutions, contact us and learn about how we can help your organization develop your next generation of talent.