April 14, 2024

Succession planning is the process by which an organization identifies and develops potential future leaders within its ranks to ensure a smooth transition of key roles and responsibilities. It involves identifying high-potential employees, providing them with development opportunities, and preparing them for future leadership positions. In this blog you will understand the key steps in developing succession planning and how to design a succession planning template

The steps involved in the succession planning process typically include:

1. Identify Key Positions:

Determine the critical roles within the organization that require succession planning. These are typically leadership positions or roles that are vital for the organization’s long-term success.

Key positions that should be identified during the succession planning process.
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of the organization’s current and future strategic objectives.
  • Identify positions that are critical to the achievement of these objectives.
  • Consider positions that have a significant impact on the organization’s financial performance, customer relationships, key projects, or overall operations.
  • Evaluate positions that require specialized skills, knowledge, or expertise that are not easily replaceable.
  • Identify roles that have a high level of responsibility, decision-making authority, or influence within the organization.
  • Consider positions where the departure of the incumbent would create a leadership or skills gap that needs to be filled.
  • Take into account positions that have historically been challenging to fill or where there may be a limited pool of qualified candidates.
  • Consider positions that are crucial for maintaining organizational stability during times of change or crisis.
  • Involve key stakeholders, such as senior leaders, department heads, and HR professionals, in the process to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s needs

2. Define Succession Criteria:

Establish the criteria and competencies required for success in the identified key positions. This may include technical skills, leadership abilities, industry knowledge, and other relevant attributes.

Here are the steps to defining succession criteria
  • Identify key roles and positions within the organization that require succession planning.
  • Determine the specific skills, knowledge, and experience needed for each role.
  • Establish performance criteria and benchmarks to assess potential successors.
  • Consider the potential for growth and development in potential successors.
  • Evaluate the current and future needs of the organization to ensure alignment with succession planning efforts.
  • Identify individuals who possess the desired qualities and potential for future leadership roles.
  • Develop a comprehensive evaluation process to assess candidates for succession.
  • Consider diversity and inclusion in the succession planning process.
  • Create a development plan for potential successors to fill any skill or experience gaps.
  • Continuously monitor and review the succession planning process to ensure its effectiveness and make necessary

3. Identify High-Potential Employees:

Identify employees who demonstrate the potential to take on future leadership roles. This can be done through performance evaluations, assessments, feedback from managers, and other talent identification methods.

The process of identifying high-potential employees for succession planning is crucial for organizations aiming to secure a strong future leadership pipeline. By carefully evaluating and assessing employees’ skills, performance, and potential, organizations can identify those individuals who possess the qualities and capabilities necessary to step into key roles and drive success. This proactive approach helps ensure a smooth transition of leadership and minimizes disruptions in organizational continuity. Through strategic identification and development of high-potential employees, organizations can confidently groom and nurture their future leaders, paving the way for sustained growth and prosperity

Steps to Identify High-Potential Employees for succession planning process
  • .Define the criteria: Determine the specific qualities, skills, and competencies that are essential for success in key leadership roles within the organization.
  • Assess current performance: Evaluate the performance of employees across various dimensions, such as job performance, leadership potential, ability to learn and adapt, and willingness to take on new challenges.
  • Seek feedback: Gather feedback from managers, peers, and other stakeholders who have worked closely with the employees to gain insights into their abilities, potential, and how they are perceived by others.
  • Conduct talent assessments: Utilize formal talent assessment tools, such as performance appraisals, personality assessments, and leadership assessments, to gather objective data on employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth.
  • Consider past accomplishments: Review employees’ track records, including their past achievements, projects they have successfully completed, and any special recognition or awards they have received.
  • Evaluate potential for growth: Assess employees’ willingness and ability to develop new skills, take on greater responsibilities, and assume leadership roles in the future.
  • Conduct interviews and discussions: Engage in one-on-one conversations with employees to understand their career aspirations, goals, and their level of commitment to the organization.
  • Consider diversity and inclusion: Ensure that the selection process considers diversity and inclusion, and provides equal opportunities for employees from underrepresented groups to be considered for succession planning.
  • Create a talent pool: Consolidate the identified high-potential employees into a talent pool and regularly review and update it based on changes in organizational needs and employee performance.
  • Provide development opportunities: Once high-potential employees have been identified, create individualized development plans that include training, mentoring, and stretch assignments to help them acquire the necessary skills and experiences for future leadership roles.
  • Continuously monitor and reassess: Regularly review and reassess the performance and potential of high-potential employees to ensure that their development plans remain relevant and aligned with the organization’s evolving needs.

4. Development Planning:

Create individual development plans for high-potential employees. These plans should outline the specific actions and experiences needed to develop the necessary skills and competencies for future leadership roles. Development opportunities may include training programs, mentoring, job rotations, stretch assignments, and coaching.

Crucial elements to consider in the development planning phase of the succession planning process.
  •  Identify the key competencies and skills required for future leadership roles within the organization.
  • Assess the current skills and competencies of potential successors to identify any gaps.
  • Create individualized development plans for each potential successor, focusing on closing any skill gaps and enhancing their leadership capabilities.
  • Provide opportunities for on-the-job learning, such as assigning them to high-impact projects or cross-functional teams.
  • Offer formal training programs and workshops to develop specific skills and knowledge needed for future roles.
  • Encourage potential successors to seek external learning opportunities, such as attending industry conferences or pursuing advanced degrees.
  • Provide mentoring and coaching to support the growth and development of potential successors.
  • Encourage networking and exposure to different parts of the organization to broaden their understanding of the business.
  • Offer opportunities for rotational assignments to expose potential successors to different functional areas and build their cross-functional expertise.
  • Provide regular feedback and performance evaluations to track progress and identify areas for further development.
  • Continuously review and update the development plans to ensure they remain aligned with the organization’s evolving needs and the potential successor’s career goals.
  • Monitor and support the potential successors’ progress, providing guidance and resources as needed.
  • Regularly review the effectiveness of the development plans and make adjustments as necessary to ensure they are achieving the desired outcomes.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization, encouraging all employees to actively pursue their own growth and development.

5. Performance Management:

Regularly review and assess the performance of high-potential employees to track their progress and provide feedback. This helps ensure that they are on track with their development plans and are meeting performance expectations.

Essential aspects of Performance Management in the context of succession planning
  • Clearly define performance expectations and goals for employees, including those in key leadership roles.
  • Establish a performance management system that includes regular performance evaluations and feedback.
  • Use objective and measurable criteria to assess performance, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) or SMART goals.
  • Provide ongoing coaching and support to help employees improve their performance and develop necessary skills.
  • Identify high-performing employees who demonstrate potential for future leadership roles.
  • Provide recognition and rewards for exceptional performance to motivate and retain top talent.
  • Address underperformance through constructive feedback, performance improvement plans, or appropriate disciplinary actions.
  • Align performance management with succession planning by identifying employees with strong performance and potential for future leadership positions.
  • Develop a talent review process to evaluate and discuss the performance and potential of employees for succession planning purposes.
  • Use performance evaluations as a basis for identifying areas for development and creating individualized development plans.
  • Continuously monitor and review performance to ensure that potential successors are consistently demonstrating the skills and competencies needed for future leadership roles.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to receive feedback from multiple sources, including peers, subordinates, and other stakeholders, to gain a holistic view of their performance.
  • Regularly communicate performance expectations, evaluation criteria, and the importance of performance management to all employees.
  • Integrate performance management with other talent management processes, such as recruitment, training, and development, to ensure a holistic and aligned approach to succession planning

6. Succession Decision-Making:

Evaluate and make decisions about potential successors for key positions. This may involve assessing the readiness and suitability of candidates based on their development progress, performance, and alignment with the succession criteria.

A guide for making decisions in the succession planning process
  • Making succession decisions involves careful evaluation of candidates’ skills, experience, and potential.
  • – Succession decision-making requires considering the long-term goals and strategies of the organization.
  • – It is important to involve multiple stakeholders and gather their input when making succession decisions.
  • – Succession decision-making should be based on objective criteria and performance evaluations.
  • – Considering diversity and inclusion in succession decision-making can help bring fresh perspectives and drive innovation.
  • – Regularly reviewing and updating succession plans can ensure that decision-making remains effective and aligned with the organization’s evolving needs.
  • – Transparency and clear communication are essential in the succession decision-making process to maintain trust and engagement among employees.

7. Transition Planning:

Once a successor is identified, create a transition plan that outlines the steps and timeline for transferring responsibilities from the current role holder to the successor. This may include knowledge transfer, mentoring, and support during the transition period.


Transition planning is a crucial aspect of the succession planning process, ensuring a smooth and seamless transfer of responsibilities. It involves identifying the necessary steps and actions required to prepare for the transition of key positions. 


Transition planning should include a timeline and milestones to track progress and ensure that the transition occurs within the desired timeframe.It is essential to involve both the outgoing and incoming individuals in the transition planning process to facilitate knowledge transfer and ensure a successful handover. 


Developing a comprehensive communication plan is vital during transition planning to keep all stakeholders informed and minimize disruption. Adequate training and development opportunities should be provided to the individuals who will be assuming new roles to ensure they are prepared for their increased responsibilities.


Regular monitoring and evaluation of the transition plan can help identify any challenges or areas that require adjustment, allowing for timely course correction.Transition planning should also include contingency plans to address unexpected events or circumstances that may arise during the succession process.

8. Ongoing Review and Adjustment:

Continuously review and adjust the succession plan based on changes in organizational needs, employee performance, and development progress. Succession planning should be an ongoing process that adapts to the evolving needs of the organization.

Ongoing review and adjustment should be a part of the succession planning process for several reasons:
  • Organizational changes: The business landscape is constantly evolving, and organizations need to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Ongoing review and adjustment allow succession plans to align with these changes and ensure that they remain relevant and effective.
  • Talent development: Ongoing review and adjustment provide opportunities to assess the progress and development of potential successors. It allows organizations to identify any gaps in skills or experience and provide additional training or development opportunities to bridge those gaps.
  • Succession plan effectiveness: By regularly reviewing and adjusting succession plans, organizations can evaluate their effectiveness and make necessary improvements. This helps ensure that the plans are achieving their intended goals and that the right individuals are being prepared for key positions.
  • Changing workforce dynamics: Workforce demographics and expectations are changing, and organizations need to adapt their succession plans accordingly. Ongoing review and adjustment allow organizations to consider factors such as diversity, inclusion, and changing employee preferences when identifying and developing potential successors.
  • Mitigating risks: Succession planning is a risk management strategy. Ongoing review and adjustment help organizations identify and mitigate risks associated with key positions being left vacant or filled with individuals who are not adequately prepared. By regularly assessing and adjusting the succession plans, organizations can proactively address potential risks and ensure business continuity.

How To Develop Succession Planning Template

  • Position: [Insert Position Title]
  • Department: [Insert Department Name]
  • Current Incumbent: [Insert Current Employee Name]
  • Potential Successors: [Insert Potential Successors’ Names]

1. Position Overview:

Provide a brief description of the position’s responsibilities, key duties, and role within the organization.

2. Current Incumbent Assessment:

Assess the current incumbent’s performance, skills, and potential for growth. Evaluate their readiness for advancement or potential departure.

  • Performance Rating: [Insert Rating]
  • Strengths: [Insert Strengths]
  • Areas for Development: [Insert Areas for Development]
  • Potential Exit Timeline: [Insert Potential Exit Timeline]
3. Successor Assessment:

Evaluate potential successors based on their qualifications, performance, and potential to fulfill the role.

Successor 1:

 [Insert Successor Name]


  • – Qualifications: [Insert Qualifications]
  • – Performance Rating: [Insert Rating]
  • – Strengths: [Insert Strengths]
  • – Areas for Development: [Insert Areas for Development]
  • Successor 2: [Insert Successor Name]
  • – Qualifications: [Insert Qualifications]
  • – Performance Rating: [Insert Rating]
  • – Strengths: [Insert Strengths]
  • – Areas for Development: [Insert Areas for Development]
4. Development Plan:

Outline a development plan for each potential successor to enhance their skills and readiness for the position.

Successor 1
Development Plan:
  • – Training Programs: [Insert Relevant Training Programs]
  • – Stretch Assignments: [Insert Assignments to Stretch Skills]
  • – Mentoring/Coaching: [Insert Mentoring or Coaching Opportunities]
  • – Timeline for Development: [Insert Development Timeline]
Successor 2
Development Plan:
  • – Training Programs: [Insert Relevant Training Programs]
  • – Stretch Assignments: [Insert Assignments to Stretch Skills]
  • – Mentoring/Coaching: [Insert Mentoring or Coaching Opportunities]
  • – Timeline for Development: [Insert Development Timeline]
5. Risk Mitigation:

Identify potential risks associated with the succession plan and develop strategies to mitigate them.

  • – Knowledge Transfer: [Insert Plan for Knowledge Transfer]
  • – Succession Backup: [Insert Backup Plan for Succession]
  • – Contingency Plan: [Insert Contingency Plan if Succession Plan Fails]
6. Monitoring and Review:

Establish a process for monitoring the progress of potential successors and regularly reviewing the succession plan’s effectiveness.

  • – Monitoring: [Insert Monitoring Process]
  • – Review Frequency: [Insert Review Frequency]
  • – Succession Plan Update: [Insert Process for Updating Succession Plan]

By using this succession planning template, you can effectively identify potential successors, create development plans, and ensure a smooth transition for key positions within your organization. Remember to tailor the template to fit your specific needs and adapt it as necessary.

In summary, ongoing review and adjustment are essential in succession planning to keep the plans up to date, develop talent effectively, assess plan effectiveness, adapt to changing workforce dynamics, and mitigate risks. By implementing a robust succession planning process, organizations can ensure a pipeline of qualified and capable leaders, minimize disruptions during leadership transitions, and maintain continuity in achieving organizational goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content