Posted: May 7, 2009 11:13 AM
Updated: May 7, 2009 11:13 AM
From the Editors of IT Business Insider
Succession planning is a long-honored practice in human resources (HR) circles. But although it's standard for organizations wishing to buffer themselves against the untimely departure of their most senior IT executives, it's a relatively rare action for enterprises to take on behalf of their low- or mid-management IT positions.
Why not initiate your own personal succession planning? That's right -- actually finding, hiring (if necessary) and training your own replacement. Although that might have seemed like a risky proposition 12 months ago when IT jobs were scarce and pay raises seemed like little more than rounding errors, today it might be the best thing you can do to advance your career." Given today's shortage of qualified IT workers, grooming your replacement is a very solid strategy," says Mark McManus, vice president of IT research at consulting firm Computer Economics in Irvine, Calif.
Show What You Know
Training a protégé makes sense for a variety of reasons, all of which demonstrate that you are thinking strategically:
It removes potential barriers to promotion Ironically, being too good at your job in a time of scarce personnel resources could actually work against you. "It's a candidates' market for IT jobs," says Tim Bosse, executive vice president of recruiting giant Hudson's IT and Telecommunications Practice, in Philadelphia, Pa. As a result, your company may be having trouble finding high-caliber people who possess the right mix of technology, managerial and people skills that you do. (article continues)
This can make it difficult for your boss to consider promoting you out of your current position. "If no one else has the right skills, this could definitely cause your career to stagnate," says Bosse.
A related issue: Because recruiters are having so much trouble luring new IT talent to your organization, they may offer an outsider a higher level position -- one that should have rightly been yours -- to entice a candidate to sign up.
It makes your own organization run more smoothly If you've got a unique combination of experience and a skill that makes you invaluable to your organization, chances are good that you're stretched a little thin. This can make it difficult to take much-needed vacations, attend off-site meetings, travel on business or attend conferences where you can expand your network and industry knowledge. Having a successor-in-training to substitute in your absence can do a lot toward lifting this kind of professional weight from your shoulders.
It gives you time to develop your own skills "You can be so busy doing your own job that you risk not getting the skills you need to move into your next position," warns McManus. "That could lead to you being passed over when something opens up." Shifting core responsibilities to your replacement can free up time for you to take an in-house training course, sign up for external educational classes or otherwise prepare for your own professional advancement. (article continues)
It shows management you are a true team player Every well-run IT organization is careful to ensure that its employee base has "depth." By taking a proactive role in developing the skill sets of others within the organization, you are demonstrating that you understand the urgency of maintaining a competitive edge on the technical personnel front.
Reach for Your Own Next Rung
It goes without saying that you should look to present yourself not just as a talent groomer but as a "talent groomee." Don't be shy about discussing your desire to enhance your career with your manager; describe your ideas for training a replacement and ask what else you should do to secure a place in the promotion pipeline.
If your company doesn't seem interested in enabling you to acquire the skills to advance to the next level, then it's probably time for you to look for a job elsewhere. The good news, says Bosse: "Today there are more options for IT professionals than there have been for a number of years. These opportunities exist on all sorts of levels -- both technical and managerial. So if you're not getting anywhere in your current organization, you can easily go elsewhere."
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