Today I want to talk (briefly) about the role of continuity players and their role in succession planning.
A “Continuity Player” is basically someone in an organization who is good at their current job, but either isn’t looking to move up (or laterally) into a different role, or else doesn’t have the ability to for one reason or another (ability level/mobility/the org is too flat or bench is too deep etc.).
Lots of organizations insist on every employee having a development plan, but I think this philosophy neglects two key points:
1. Some employees are simply very happy where they are (and strong performers in their current roles)
2. There is tremendous value in having employees in a 1. These employees not only serve as skill repositories for new hires to learn from, but they also provide their department/function with a sense of stability and, well, continuity. To be fair, there is a danger that employees in these sorts of roles can become impediments to needed change, but change management is an altogether separate issue here in my opinion, and the positives of having continuity players outweighs the bad.department that are good at their jobs and happy with where they are. 1
Having high performing, long term incumbents in key roles allows said employees to serve as trainers of high potential talent. Continuity players also (often) do their jobs very effectively, and while their value can diminish over time as they approach to the top of their range(s), the added cost of their salaries late in career is often easily offset by the net value of having them across the larger timeline. 2
Everyone can’t be Director/Vice President/President of “insert whatever department and/or function here”, and having strong role players is an integral 2. Of course, in cases where an employee is good at his/her role and would like to move up higher in the organization (but isn’t able to) it’s important to address this in a way that leaves the employee feeling engaged. Not every continuity player starts as a willing continuity player – but this doesn’t mean the organization should let him/her go. Topic for another day…part of ensuring that things keep moving smoothly despite this reality.
What do you think. Continuity Players: Yay or Nay? Does every employee need a development plan?
Please share your thoughts below.
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