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How to Develop a Succession Plan

Author: Warren N. Rothman, Blue Prairie Group, LLC

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing employees within the organization who have the potential to fill key leadership positions. It is a way for an employer to better ensure leadership continuity and is a form of proactive contingency planning (i.e., if the employer grows and expands, if a key leader leaves or if an employee is promoted, the employer has developed and validated a plan for how that new opening will be filled and whom the potential candidate(s) to fill it would be).

Succession planning may link an employer's:

  • Competencies;
  • Performance management;
  • Training and development;
  • Talent assessment; and
  • Career-pathing processes.

Further, it sends an important message to employees, as well as to outside recruits: this employer is one that invests in a planning process to ensure that talented staff will have ample advancement and promotional opportunities. While often associated with large, multi-billion dollar companies, succession planning is equally important in smaller for-profit organizations, as well as not-for-profits and family-owned businesses.

In order to have an efficient and effective succession planning process, an employer should adhere to the steps outlined below.