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Case study: How SDB promoted 34% of its talent through effective succession planning



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Francesca Mah, Head of Human Resources, Selangor Dredging Berhad, tells Priya Sunil how the company leverages on a coaching culture to develop high-performing leaders.

A performance-driven culture, an equal opportunity policy, a constant learning environment and an active wellbeing programme inclusive of flexible work hours – these four elements are foundational for providing clarity and support to employees at property developer Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB).

With these in place, talent management at SDB includes the following three-step process: identifying staff with high potential; identifying candidates for positions to support the succession plan; and planning and monitoring them in their yearly development goals.

“We are committed to investing in our people’s success, for their benefit and our business,” says Francesca Mah, Head of Human Resources at SDB. This commitment shines through a series of programmes developed in the past few years, which includes a focus on coaching, design-thinking, cross-collaboration projects, and more.

Under the umbrella of coaching, external experts are brought in for individual coaching for heads of departments (HODs), while in-house training and coaching are undertaken for managing performance using measurable results. These are supplemented by developing the coaching skills of participants through on-the-job coaching, which in turn, helps to grow their own potential talent.

On the experience of working with an external coach, Mah cites that each coach would meet their appointed HOD individually on a monthly basis while providing off-site support as and when required.

She shares:

We find that individual coaching helps during the initial months and develops them towards being able to think through issues on their own to solve them.

“Eventually, the coach was phased off after about a year.”

In addition to the coaching programme, SDB also encourages the participation of selected talent in design thinking projects; as well as exposing participants to cross-collaboration projects to broaden their knowledge.

So how well have these been working? “Of course, some programmes work better than others. However, in general, there was improvement noted for every programme we ran,” she reveals.

Since the talent management programme started in 2016, a total of 34% of the talent who were promoted, and 80% of the team manager and above positions, have been filled by the pipeline talent emerging from the succession planning initiative.

Looking towards 2020: What’s on the agenda?

Keeping an eye on the next year ahead, Mah shares what potential leaders at SDB can expect: “I would say that most of the efforts in our leadership development are concentrated on broadening and deepening their skills.

“While some leaders have good EQ, it would still be good to strengthen our leaders in this area to have a positive influence over their staff in driving strong results.”

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This case study was part of a feature on leadership development, which appeared in the Q2 edition of Human Resources magazine (Malaysia). Read the full feature in the special Learning & Development edition out now!

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