Succession Planning

“A good succession-planning program aims to identify high growth individuals, train them and feed the pipelines with new talent”
What is Succession Planning?


Succession planning is key to the ongoing sustainability and success of a business.

Succession planning is a process of determining critical roles within the company, identifying and assessing possible successors, and providing them with the appropriate skills and experience for present and future opportunities.

Successors may be fairly ready to do the job (short-term successors) or be seen as having longer-term potential (long-term successors).

Succession planning is a forward looking process, anticipating what skills will be needed in the future. Thinking about the business strategy and determining what skills you will need when.

Succession planning ensures that high quality replacements for those individuals who currently hold positions that are key to the organization’s success. These positions include executive, management, specialists, technical, and professional positions and any critical positions motivated by a Line Manager.

Desired Results

The desired results of the succession planning program are to:

  • Identify high-potential employees capable of rapid advancement to positions of higher responsibility than those they presently occupy.
  • Ensure the systematic and long-term development of individuals to replace key job incumbents as the need arises due to deaths, disabilities, retirements, and, resignations other unexpected losses.
  • Provide a continuous flow of talented people to meet the organization’s management needs.
  • Meet the organization’s need to exercise social responsibility by providing for the advancement of successors in the organization.


The next stage is to identify potential successors for the plan considering the availability of skills and potential within the organisation and to balance this internal talent pool with the need to source such skills from outside of the company. Managers will need to be involved in this process as they should be asked to nominate people from their team.

A strategic vision of what the organisation’s top talent requirements will be in three to five years time must be documented by the Executive Team along with the Management Team and this must be review annually.


  •     Identify future key positions linked to business strategy, goals and future demands.
  •     Identify any successors through performance review processes. This may be company specific or a group wide initiative.
  •     Determine what attributes are missing and plan how they can be achieved through training, shadowing and personal development.
  •     Determine when the successors may be ready i.e. 3 years, 5 years or immediately.
  •     If there is no natural successor decide when external recruitment should commence and draft a specification for recruitment to ensure that you have a skilled Manager from day one.

Succession planning plays a vital role and is necessary when a key executive or employee is:

  •     unwilling to continue the role within the organization
  •     accepting an offer from another organization which will terminate or lessen their value to the current organization
  •     indicating the completion of a short-term project or task assigned or
  •     moving to different position and different set of responsibilities within the organization

A succession plan clearly sets out the factors to be taken into account and the process to be followed in relation to retaining or replacing the person. Succession management systems provide an enabling solution for the planning and process – going through all possible scenarios and providing the best solutions and shortest paths to succession.

Having a decision making body and succession planning process is critical. However, software can help make this process consistent, automated and fair. Succession planning teams can play “what if” scenarios
Succession Planning Tools

Succession planning starts when you can accurately measure the performance of the employees assess skills and career growth information. Succession planning tools need to have extensive integration and customization options to support all of your talent management efforts.

To identify a correct succession planning and talent management system you need to have a software that -

  • Has a performance management system that delivers accurate data
  • Self-service online resumes for employees
  • Has a recruiting system that enables to transfer information on new hires directly to your succession planning analysis and data
  • Integrates with your HRIS position/job management data with links to competencies and other qualifications
  • Is a powerful bench strength assessment tool that can share, review and analyze data to provide latest and updated information
  • Uses easy interactive tools or matrices for assessing employee potential, flight risk and impact of loss
  • Provides the needed framework for effective gap analysis
  • Has a search capability based on multiple filters and employee characteristics
  • Provides a view of your succession plan in any format, including organizational charts with concern areas highlighted
  • Provides with a complete career inventory data for each employee readily at hand, managers can specify targeted future jobs for colleagues and indicate a readiness timeframe
  • Customizable email reminders
  • Informative visual reports and dashboard

Models of Succession Planning

There are three main models that companies use to implement succession planning:

  •     Short-term planning or emergency replacements
  •     Long-term planning or managing talent
  •     Combination of above plans

Organizations should take a close look at their goals and levels of commitment before choosing a model that best suits their needs.

Short-term or emergency replacements

This is the most common model of succession planning and serves as a crucial point for all types of businesses. Short-term replacement planning is focused on an urgent need caused by a sudden development within the organization –skilled employee leaving the company, expansion or contraction of business. Sometimes, emergency replacement planning must work to retain knowledge that is about to be lost. Emergency knowledge retention is an option to consider if the organization is about to lose specialized knowledge and does not have a successor to take the knowledge.

Emergency succession planning can come into play any time the organization expands in a new direction or discovers the talent gaps to fill the required managerial position. Generally, human resources will try to fill the role from within the organization, but often go outside, if no one has been trained for the job in the organization.
Long-term planning or managing talent

Talent management focuses on the future needs of the organization. Working within the strategic framework for the company’s future goals, senior management identifies the positions necessary for growth and the best candidates to fill those roles. Some organizations invite all employees to take part in an assessment process, while others have managers identify leadership candidates.

If companies wish to grow leaders from within their existing talent pool and have the time and resources to develop a useful program, effective talent management will become a key component of its long-term human capital strategy. The advantages of this model include:

  •     Identifies a specialized talent pool
  •     Defines and builds future skills required for the success of the organization
  •     Motivates and retains employees by involvement in their career growth

Some of the disadvantages of this type of model include:

  •     Expensive and time consuming
  •     Existing employee-base may not have required skills and experience for key posts and outside hiring can lead to resentment
  •     Managers may be frustrated by not being allowed to choose a successor

Combination of both the plans

This model allows senior management to plan for the long-term growth of both the organization and employees within the organization and prepare for emergency replacements to ensure that business is not affected by knowledge loss or lack of skilled employees.

HR professionals will find that the advantages of succession planning greatly outweigh the disadvantages, which can be overcome by proper planning and communication

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