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4 things to do before starting the succession planning process

Last time on the blog, we discussed some of the benefits organisations could experience simply by having a succession plan in place. These benefits include a significant increase in employee engagement and a higher number of identified, well-developed leaders on board. You can read the full article here.

Over the next few posts, we’ll discuss how to go about implementing a succession plan for your own company.


But first…What is a succession plan?

Leigh Richards, an expert in organisational management, defines succession planning as “the identification of job vacancies that can be expected to occur through retirement or attrition and the strategic consideration of where and how internal candidates might fill those vacancies. It involves assessing job requirements and skills of existing employees and then seeking to fill the gaps between needs and skills with targeted training and development activities.”

Having a succession plan in place for your organisation can help identify the company’s future leaders and begin the training processes that will increase their performance outcomes. This in turn can positively impact the engagement levels among your employees. That being said, if your organisation doesn’t yet have a succession plan in place, consider developing one. It will be an investment in your company’s future and in its success.


How to get started with succession planning.

Before we get into the actual steps of the succession planning process, there are four things to do during the pre-development process to ensure you establish a strong foundation for your organisation’s succession plan.


Get clear on your why.

It all begins with the ‘why’, as Simon Sinek would say. Why is your organisation developing a succession plan? In other words, what factors are motivating you to have such a plan in place? Are key people within your organisation, for instance, scheduled to retire within the next few years? Does your company anticipate departures because of competitive offers elsewhere? It may simply be that your organisation is breaking ground in a new direction and will need several new positions filled by qualified individuals. Whatever the case may be, getting clear on your ‘why’ will help you to develop a succession plan that’s truly aligned with your organisation’s values and goals for the future.


Establish your team.

It’s incredibly important to get the right people on board with the succession-planning process. These individuals should be incredibly knowledgeable about position competencies as well as what skills and special training may be required for each position. Having the right team in place in your pre-development phase will ensure that you cover all your bases, have a balanced representation of your organisation across the board, and are able to spot potential vulnerabilities in the company’s future and more readily prepare for them. As they say: two heads are better than one.


Anticipate the future.

Forecasting comes into play here. Whenever you develop a succession plan, it’s vital that you measure the factors that may contribute to or hinder its success. Are there changing trends, for example, occurring within the industry or marketplace where your company plays? What about within the workplace itself? What changes might occur in terms of age or culture or any number of other factors…and what needs will your company be required to meet in order to continue developing your team members?


Determine the big picture.

Your organisation most likely already has a strategic plan in place. A plan such as that is a sort of manifesto that describes what your company is all about, where it sees itself going, and how it believes it will get there. Your succession plan must fit into the big picture that your strategic plan creates. If it doesn’t fit and is out of alignment with the big picture, it will never succeed. At every step, ensure that these two separate plans are working hand in hand and are constantly linked to each other.



When you get clear on the motivating factors for a new succession plan, establish the right team to develop it, anticipate the very things that will help it succeed, and fit it into an overall big picture that describes your company’s strategy for the future, you’ll be one step closer to creating a succession plan that ensures your organisation’s longevity and strengthens it like never before.


Next time, we’ll review what implementing a succession plan looks like and the essential steps you don’t want to miss!

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