Succession Planning Tips

October 30, 2013 by Raymond Lee

A good succession planning program is more than just establishing back-ups. Successional planning is identifying needs for talent and management within the organization and training individuals for current and future responsibilities. It is also more than just crisis management. The whole point of establishing a good succession plan is to divert crisis, not just manage it.


Management is always dealing with the issue of how best to develop the next generation of leaders. Succession planning is about being proactive and prepared. Leaders should have a constant finger on the pulse of their workforce. This means having an understanding of exactly who and how many workers are nearing retirement. This also means having an understanding of business trends and industry fluctuations.

Look into the Future

As plans are formed, a deep look into the future is vital in identifying gaps in talent before they arise. Looking at the future of the organization allows us to see if we are looking at a lack of quality or relevant candidates and leaders. Establishing a plan in advance will allow leaders the chance to develop leaders and targeted candidates. Looking for the flaws and holes before they affect the organization is only effective if leaders are honest about their talent pool.

Succession planning will often enable leaders to see things that they would not have otherwise looked for. Taking a real look at talent and leadership in regards to the present and the future of the organization, allows leaders to see what needs to happen and change now.

Getting Everyone Involved

The higher up the ladder these employees go, the more upper-level leaders should have a say in the decision. Getting everyone involved with succession planning does a few things for the organization. Getting leaders involved means more perspectives for a well-rounded choice. Additionally by starting a dialogue with leaders, it ensures that there will be more of a consensus on succession decisions. Finally, when everyone is involved throughout the process, you won’t end up making last minutes decisions in a panic. If a team is involved in this decision, it is easier to avoid making a rushed and bad hire.

This is a Process

This isn’t a one-time decision; it is an evolving process. A good rule of thumb is to track 3 workers for each future position. These may change over time. Changing out employees on a succession plan can be either because of industry changes or talent changes. Perhaps the same set of skills and strengths for a particular position have changed due to technology or industry needs. This can mean switching out a candidate. There is also the chance that higher quality talent will arise in the organization. No industry or talent is stagnant. There will always be change.

Are You Ready?

Could this candidate step into the role that they are slated for tomorrow? It they couldn’t, it may be time to place more emphasis on succession planning. Nothing is guaranteed, and the right succession plan allows for inevitable change. Molding and mentoring candidates everyday helps them grow, and keeps the company prepared for change. The worst thing that could happen is to end up with a lot of highly skilled workers who understand the organization in more depth.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee is the President of Careerminds, a global outplacement company based in Wilmington, Delaware. He has over 20 years of human resource, outplacement, and career consulting experience. He has his bachelor’s in psychology and holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. He is active in SHRM and ATD. Raymond’s been featured on SiriusXM Business Radio, CareerTalk, and the Wall Street Journal and he’s published a book titled, Clocking Out: A Stress-Free Guide to Career Transitions.

In need of outplacement assistance?

At Careerminds, we care about people first. That’s why we offer personalized talent management solutions for every level at lower costs, globally.

Speak with an Expert

Log In Contact Us