What is succession planning?  Essentially succession planning is the process of identifying and developing people within the organisation who have the potential to fill key leadership roles in the future.

It is a process that should be part of every company’s strategic plan.  The strategic plan sets the overall direction of the business and the succession plan identifies what the key positions are in the business that need to be fulfilled in the future and who is likely to fulfil them.

So what should you consider when putting your plan together?  Ideally you need to:

  • Identify the key roles in the organisation that need to be filled in the future. While in the main these are likely to be leadership roles they could also be technical positions too.
  • Identify the people with potential to take on greater responsibility within the organisation and who could fulfil those roles in the future.
  • Consider whether you need a system and/or database to gather and collate all the necessary information, although this will be dependent upon the size of your organisation.
  • Engage the leadership team in supporting and mentoring the development of potential leaders
  • Make certain that each job has a specific job description with clear objectives, personal attributes etc.
  • Ensure those identified as having potential have a clear PDP and path set out for them to enable them to achieve their potential and fulfil the role the organisation needs them to.
  • Consider how often you will review the plan.Will it be once a year or when a key position becomes available?

Many of the world’s best known and successful companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Marriott and Procter and Gamble use formal succession planning processes.  They recognise the benefits that succession planning brings, as it:

  • Minimises the risk to the long term future of the business by providing a ‘pipeline’ of talented leaders.
  • Enhances the reputation of  the company, as being a good, challenging and exciting place to work with formal processes to develop and enhance careers.
  • Provides leaders who have an extensive knowledge and experience of the company.

But remember succession planning is not a one off task – it is like painting the Forth Bridge, it is never finished!