Four key elements that can inspire you to start working with Succession Planning

Once you have decided that Succession Planning can make a significant difference in your company and that HR actually have the needed competencies to succeed there a number of things to consider. I have chosen to focus on four key elements that can inspire you to start working with Succession Planning.

Advice 1. Strategic considerations and questions to ask yourself

There are a number of strategic considerations to get you started in your business:

  • Why Succession Planning in your company?
  • How do you understand Succession Planning?
  • General policy about Succession Planning?
  • Benefits?
  • How does Succession Planning fit in relation to workforce planning, talent management and leadership development?

Once you have identified the strategic value of Succession Planning, it is time to consider how to fit it within your organization:

  • How to fit to your strategy – Future needs?
  • Target group?
  • Roles and responsibilities (Top Management, Group HR, Local HR, local Management etc.)?
  • Assessment criteria?
  • Best Practice?

Here it is meaningful to choose models, definitions and processes that fit your company culture and level of maturity.

It is always important to measure whether you have succeeded:

  • Key Performance Indicators/success criteria
  • Follow up and evaluation

Advice 2. Choosing a model

By choosing a model, I mean to decide on the overall Succession Planning process. This process can be easier for the business to understand and implement if it is simple and makes sense. Below you will find a simple but effective model with six stages:




Succession Planning Model

Identify future business needs.
Consider the future of your business by taking a close look at your strategy and business plans. Maybe there are new business areas you want to pursue, new markets you want to enter or new products you consider to develop. You need to identify key areas and functions that are currently strategic to your company’s success and survival.

Identify key roles.
Within the areas and functions that are of strategic importance to your company, there are a number of roles and positions that are key. You need to map these roles by asking yourself the question “If these key positions or roles were vacant tomorrow, how would it affect the business?” Furthermore, identify key competencies, skills and success factors that are critical to these roles and positions.

Select candidates.
The next thing you need to do is to identify the Succession Planning candidates. These candidates are in most cases internal employees but also remember the possibility to recruit externally. They can be high potentials but could also be highly specialized employees with a specific competence or/and knowledge.

Develop solutions to individual gap areas.
Now we have identified critical areas, key roles and competencies and we have selected a number of employees that potentially could fit in to the possible vacant positions. It is likely that they do not provide a perfect fit and require to still grow further in terms of skills, personal behaviour or experience. In order to develop the best possible solution you now need to perform a gap analysis to identify which skills, competencies or experience are needed.

Implement development solutions
In many cases, the best solution is to develop individual solutions but please also consider if there are common development areas. By doing development in common as much as is possible it will minimize cost and time and also can be an inspiration to individual progress in practice.

Monitor and evaluate
Select the evaluation period (typically reviewed annually) and be prepared to respond rapidly to unforeseen changes to the plan. Monitor whether you actually uses the pool of successors when a relevant vacancy occurs.

Advice 3. Developing a number of relevant and useful tools

In order to ensure that you achieve your aims in implementing Succession Planning you will need to develop a number of tools. These tools will help the individual leaders and in general assist the whole organization in faster and easier acceptance and subsequently work with the concept:

Assessment tool and assessment guide.
These tools enables leaders to evaluate and identify relevant successors.

Development planning tools and guide.
Leaders need to be able to identify relevant development for their successors. This tool will assist them in how to look at development for their successors and come with suggestions and examples.

Replacement plan (Individual).
This is a tool to map the information on the potential successors for one key position.

Replacement plan (overall list).
This is a tool to map all key positions along with the name and title of potential successors for each position.

Project plan.
This plan will enable HR to continue to run the Succession Planning project. The plan will consist of milestones, activities and deadlines.

Advice 4. KISS

Once you have identified a pool of successors, made the development plans etc. it eventually comes down to a very important question, do you actually use the Succession Planning machine? I have seen companies only targeting external candidates even though a fine pool of successors were in place.

Keep it Simple (KISS) (the whole concept) and ensure there is a good and appropriate amount of information, e.g. telling the good story when possible, then you have a great opportunity to make it a success in practice.

To find out more about how PPI can help your HR professionals step up to the challenges of successfully implementing Succession Planning contact Gerry Buckley at the PPI Network at


Succession Planning