Succession Planning Of A Project Team

Some real world experiences

The Brief:

To prepare a team for the promotion of its leader by restructuring the business area so that all management and operational areas were covered and middle tier managers were prepared for new responsibilities.

The Work:

The client was an industrial company with a traditional ‘us and them' attitude between management and staff. However to free managers to take on bigger jobs it was necessary to prepare operational staff to take up management roles.

We started by analysing the organisation structure of the company and discussing at board level the skills and responsibilities of the existing team. We discovered that by dividing the operational area there were two project managers who could take over the management responsibility of the specialist manager.

A series of workshops uncovered reluctance on the part of the team to allow the manager to move on to his new role. His directive management style was considered necessary for the successful delivery of the major projects essential for the company's survival. However the workshop also revealed a knowledge base that was being suppressed by the lack of confidence among supervisors and junior managers within the team. Encouraged to come up with ideas for the improvement of the operation of the area, they were able to generate innovation, appraise it and make recommendations agreed upon by all.

We carried out an assessment exercise using psychometric tests and in-depth interviews to understand the personality types of the manager and his two direct reports. We used an intensive coaching programme to examine and soften the authoritative style of the senior manager so that he could in turn coach his junior managers in the technical and management skills required for the job. This took a matter of weeks as the coaching began to build up the self-confidence of the junior managers.

Supervisory workshops continued to take place on a fortnightly basis during this period to check progress and to lay the foundations for the new departmental structure. The supervisors and operational staff became increasingly engaged during the process because they could see suggestions being taken up and developed. Communication lines grew stronger as the transparency of the management thinking was new for this team.

A quick hit during this period was a relocation managed by the junior managers as an exercise to put into place some of their new skills.


As well as a successful relocation, the managers grew into their roles very quickly, allowing the manager to take up his promotion early. The company benefited from being less reliant on a very select team of senior managers and was able to put into place a succession plan using this assignment as a model throughout the operation.

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