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14. Managers' and mentors' roles and responsibilities are clear.

In traditional replacement-planning systems, the roles of managers and mentors are often vague. Frequently, both the mentor/manager and the individual being developed wait for the other to initiate meetings or wait for a form or memo telling them to do so from those running the succession management program. When they finally do meet, goals for the meeting are often not spelled out, which means that the success of the relationship cannot be measured. As a result of all this uncertainty, few of the people involved are likely to be enthusiastic about taking time out of their busy schedules to participate. Soon the frequency of meetings declines, or they cease entirely.

Managers and mentors in an Acceleration Pool are equipped to support assigned pool members. They are oriented to the expectations and accountabilities associated with their roles and are provided with easy access to support resources, such as online guidance relative to training and development options. Preparing managers and mentors with coaching tools and processes is accomplished through streamlined orientations, one-on-one sessions with HR or more experienced executives, and for some managers short, formal training programs.

15. Retention is a focus of the system.

Many a manager has been shocked to learn that a key employee is leaving the organization for better opportunities elsewhere. In an exit interview the manager then hears how the individual just didn't see a future in the organization—although the manager had seen this person as a high-potential "keeper." The problem was communication—no one ever bothered to tell that employee that he or she was a highly valued contributor facing a bright future with the company.

That scenario does not happen in the Acceleration Pool system because members are aware of the benefits and responsibilities of being in the pool and have been invited to choose whether or not to participate. They know that they are, by definition, seen as high potential. They understand that they are getting special attention from senior management. And they see that they are getting the tools and opportunities to realize that potential, be involved in setting their own goals, and shape their own future.

We strongly believe that the key to retaining people is to make significant learning and training experiences available. Today people want to feel that they are learning and growing—indeed, one of the most common reasons that departing managers give for leaving is "lack of personal growth." People in an Acceleration Pool have tremendous (and obvious) learning and promotional opportunities, which provide a powerful motivation to stay with the company.

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