Succession Planning Strategies for Your Organization

Historically, the head of a family business or estate undertook the succession planning process . The plan was established to select and train a successor within the family. The term has since been adapted for a corporate context.

Succession planning indicates the process of preparing suitable individuals to fill the roles of key organizational leaders who leave the company. Ideally, successors fill crucial roles. This only happens after careful and well-developed plans of action have been followed. This ensures that the new leaders have all the knowledge and competencies necessary to fulfill their roles successfully.


Developing Your Succession Plan

It's important to be clear about what you need from your organization’s succession plan. You must align your leadership with your organizational goals. Start the process by asking questions, such as:

  • Who should be involved in planning?

  • What leadership roles do you have now?

  • What leadership roles do you want to have in five years?

  • What kind of ROI do you want to achieve?

  • Who do you currently have in your talent pool?

  • What skills will your organization need in five years?

  • How will you close the gap between what you have and what you need?

  • How will you plan for program sustainability, structure, definition, assessment, and measurement?



Challenges in Succession Planning

While effective succession planning can help you achieve succession succession, there are still challenges to face. Employers frequently implement succession plans to ensure smooth role transitions within their organizations. When doing this they are faced with three primary challenges in implementing these plans:

  • Identifying talented candidates for leadership succession.

  • Developing candidates to become suitable leadership successors.

  • Retaining leaders and succession candidates long enough to ensure that key positions will be successfully filled according to plan.

These challenges would threaten to hamper the success of any succession plan's implementation. It is more effective to focus on the developmental aspects of succession - as succession development. Shifting the focus to development enables employers to integrate succession planning practices with their greater talent development strategies. Talent development strategies suited to securing a talent pool of capable succession candidates include employee career development programs and mentoring programs.


Succession Planning Strategies

Rather than viewing succession planning strategies in a vacuum, employers can address the primary challenges to succession. This is done by facilitating programs that are designed to enable employee development and improve employee retention in their own right.

Career development programs provide employees with the tools and resources to map out their careers. They are able to plan for their own advancement while developing the competencies they need to fulfill crucial roles.

As employees fulfill criteria needed to advance to a new position, employers can track their progress. This allows them to determine which employees are developing and making progress. This helps to address the challenge of identifying candidates suitable for succession.

Career development programs also contribute to improving employee engagement and retention, while addressing the challenges of developing and retaining candidates.

Mentoring programs provide employees with structured opportunities to learn from more experienced members of the organization. A mentoring program facilitates leadership development by matching talented mentees with mentors in leadership positions. Through these matches mentors can offer guidance and expertise to suitable succession candidates.

Mentoring also helps improve employee retention. Implementing a mentoring program provides talented employees with the guidance and support they need. Mentors take notice of talented mentees and provide employers with insight in identifying candidates for succession.


Succession Planning Strategies and Technology

Implementing a succession strategy with technology becomes important in addressing two challenges to succession planning - qualifying and matching candidates.

Qualifying Candidates

With career development software and mentoring software, employers can streamline the process of identifying and selecting high potential candidates. They are able to track employees' development progress and collect feedback from mentors about possible candidates.

Qualified candidates should be highly engaged individuals that are willing to be considered as part of your succession pipeline.

Matching Candidates

Matching is important when a mentoring program is implemented as part of the succession strategy. Using mentoring software with custom algorithm-based matching can maximize the efficiency of your matching success. This is especially important as your are developing the future leaders of your organization. The mentors and mentees must be matched based on their current and potential leadership skills, as well as the development goals.

Once a successful match has been made, the mentoring relationships can take place. Through the relationship employees can position themselves for advancement. They will create a self-directed career development plan under the guidance of an experienced mentor. This plan will lead them to the leadership role that has been defined by their organization.


The challenges of succession planning have their solutions in talent development. With a well-developed talent pool, employers can plan for success in succession.


Learn more about using mentoring for succession development.