BLOG: Merit Breakfast Keynote about succession planning at Buildex Calgary

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by JOC Digital Media

The second day of Buildex Calgary kicked off with the inaugural Merit Contractors Association Breakfast. The event included a keynote address by Jake Appleman with FMI Management Consulting, who focused on succession planning.
BLOG: Merit Breakfast Keynote about succession planning at Buildex Calgary

Appleman started his address by describing himself as industrial physiologist. One of his early jobs was performing exit interviews for a trucking firm, and he said the most common reason for people leaving the company was a lack of leadership.

One of the biggest factors in the need for succession planning is the upcoming retirement of the baby boom generation. Adding to this issue is a smaller pool of workers coming in to fill the gap.

Appleman said that the industry doesn't do a good enough job of selling these jobs to young people, adding that companies in Alberta and Western Canada are having a tough time finding enough people to fill leadership positions.

Appleman also asked attendees to think about growth over the next  five to 10 years, and to take note of the workers they have and those that can be groomed to take on leadership positions.

"Your best bet is to develop the talent you have now," Appleman said.

Appleman asked the audience how they measure up for succession planning, with questions such as:

  • How well do you objectively identify candidates to get into your talent pool?
  • Do you have targeted individualized development plans for workers that align with company framework?

"The first step in good succession planning is defining your organization's purpose and values, and then sharing those throughout your organization, Apppleman said

He said companies must also define their aspirations for the next 10-20 years.

He asked the construction executives and others in the audience if they are intentionally building leaders through coaching, mentoring and training right now, and explained that it takes seven to 10 years to develop a high performing project manager.

"The best organizations are crystal clear on vision.This is the heart and soul of the organization," Appleman said. "We think this is extremely important."

He said developing this vision allows a company to determine who fits in with their organization and helps them determine who should be groomed for leadership.

Appleman said that he doesn't believe that everyone can become a leader, but good leaders have a combination of natural ability, training and the right opportunities.

"It's a lot of work and a tremendous amount of responsibility," he said, adding that it's not for everyone, even if it looks nice from the outside.

Technical skills become less important the higher you climb the leadership chain, Appleman added.

He also said people must not mistake charisma for leadership ability. They are not the same thing.

Appleman also explained some of the mechanics of succession planning.

He said that organizations need to develop competency models and determine where leadership candidates fit within those models.

Part of this process is evaluating leadership candidates with a talent assessment matrix.

This can include how they fit culturally, strategically and determining how much key talent they have.

Using this matrix, a determination can be made on  the potential  of the candidate and the best course of action for their development, if warranted.

Peter Pilarski. vice president of Southern Alberta at Merit Contractors Association said that his organization  intends to make the Merit Breakfast an annual  event at Buildex Calgary.
He said he was pleased that the event sold out and 145 Merit members took part.

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