Felicia Shakiba
September 7, 2023
10 min

Strategies for successful succession planning

Avoid chaos and disruption with a well-thought out succession plan

Succession planning is a critical component of organizational development. It serves as an important bridge between talent acquisition and succession management. As such, it should not be considered a one-time event; rather, it should be an ongoing process involving regular analysis of the organization's talent needs by job role and title.

Executives often don't think about developing leaders until a successor is needed.

Three children from Succession the series, standing together, all l king in one direction

Succession planning is not a one-time event and it's important to have a plan for the future. It goes beyond simply finding someone to fill a role, but is also about developing leaders.

To do it right, it must be an ongoing process that requires collaboration between managers throughout an organization. The senior leadership team must create and manage succession plans for high-level positions in order to ensure continued success as individuals move up into these roles, as well as meet strategic business objectives by ensuring that employees are prepared for new opportunities across the organization.

It isn't just the CEO who requires a successor.

You may have heard the term "succession planning" in the context of a CEO or other high-level leader. But succession planning is not just for CEOs—it applies to all leaders. Ideally, every person in a leadership position should have a plan for what will happen when they leave, because people want to know that there's someone ready to take over.

When you're developing your succession plan, think about what skills and experiences you need from candidates for each position in your organization. You'll likely find that some positions require more specialized knowledge than others, so make sure you're clear about what's needed from each role before you start looking for candidates.

Effective succession planning requires leaders to forecast talent needs by job role, not just by job title.

This can be especially challenging when leaders are accustomed to thinking about succession only in terms of filling a specific position. Here are some ways to mitigate those challenges:

  • In retailing, one way for companies to identify future talent needs is through what we call "succession-driven assessment" (SDA), which involves profiling current employees based on their abilities and interests and then forecasting who will fit into what roles as part of the organization evolves over time.
  • When you're creating a list of potential successors that stretches across multiple divisions or locations throughout your organization, it helps if they come from different backgrounds with varied skillsets so they can work together on projects without needing too much handholding or training in order to hit the ground running. A good way for leaders to begin thinking about these issues is by conducting a "talent inventory," which involves defining the key attributes needed for success within each role.

What it takes to make your plan a success.

Succession planning must be a continuous process that is performed at all levels of the organization. It involves identifying individuals who have the right skill sets and leadership qualities, developing them through coaching and mentoring programs, promoting them into new roles when appropriate and replacing them if they're not ready for promotion. This process should be carefully planned out so that there is no disruption to operations or client service when an executive leaves or steps down from his position within the company.

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