Succession planning

Succession planning — diving into your talent pools

Why do you need a succession plan?

  • To be able to respond effectively to change
  • So you can recruit and retain the best talent
  • To support organizational growth

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' 15th Global CEO Survey 2012, developing a leadership and talent pipeline is the top concern of CEOs globally.

Succession planning vs. replacement planning

Replacement planning is the process by which organizations identify 1 or 2 potential interim replacements for each executive/leadership position. It is temporary, tactical and does NOT replace a succession plan.

Succession planning is the strategic process by which organizations identify their high-performing/high-potential employees and develop them to take on progressively greater responsibility and leadership in the organization.

Succession planning is fundamentally about development

The focus should be on developing strength (talent pools) in all key areas that deliver a competitive advantage.

  • Developing your high-performing/high-potential/high-knowledge employees (in part so you can retain them)
  • Developing the strategic competencies the organization needs to thrive and succeed both today and tomorrow — in all key areas
  • Developing and maintaining corporate knowledge and a leadership pipeline

A few succession planning basics

  • Allow for multiple career paths — development and progression don't need to be linear
  • Bersin: Companies that revise and update goals quarterly generate more than 30 percent greater impact from their performance management processes than those which implement the old-fashioned annual review.
  • Keep a balance — bringing some new blood into the organization is a good thing
  • Create talent pools — always have multiple potential employees, at various levels of readiness, prepared to assume greater responsibility

More succession planning basics

  • Develop talent in all key areas of the organization — not just for leadership roles
  • Focus on developmental work experiences (up to 90% of the learning we do is on the job)
  • Allow talented individuals to develop at their own pace, respecting their life circumstances
  • Don't forget the vital importance of knowledge transfer

Why talent pool-based succession planning?

  • Proven to be more effective than traditional organization chart-based programs that focus more on replacement planning
  • Establishes and develops a large number of promotable employees for all key areas in the organization
  • Increases employee engagement and retention
  • Supports your 3–5 year strategic plans, ensuring the organization has the knowledge/skills/competencies/ experience required for continued success

Succession planning articles & resources


Creating talent pools

Discover what you need to do to create the talent pools your organization needs for its ongoing success.

Should you have a replacement plan?

Understand the difference between a succession plan and a replacement plan and the vital need for both.

What makes an effective succession planning program?

Review a comprehensive checklist of all the characteristics of a truly effective succession plan.

Proven tools for identifying and developing your organization's talent pipeline

Learn how to conduct a talent review and use a 9-box grid to develop your organization's talent pipeline.

How does succession planning differ from replacement planning?

Learn how a replacement plan differs from a succession plan, and why developing talent pools is important.

How to avoid common succession management blunders and make sure you promote the right people

Learn the importance of succession management and looking beyond your “star performers” for succession development.

Building your talent pool – when and how to create new management and leadership roles

Get guidance on how to create new management and leadership roles in the organization and develop employees to fill them.

Succession planning posts

Visit our TalentSpace blog to learn what other organizations, industry thought-leaders and HR pros are saying about Succession Planning.

HR the 90s called; they want their succession planning templates back!

Ditch your old succession planning templates. Learn 12 steps to a better succession plan.

Succession assessment tool

Take our complimentary assessment and compare your company's succession effectiveness against best-in-class programs.

Enlist managers to build organizational bench strength

Get practical advice you can share with managers to enlist their help in building your organization's bench strength.

Succession planning white papers and downloads


10 key steps to effective succession planning

Succession planning expert, Dr. William J. Rothwell lays out the 10 key steps to effective succession planning as well as the 5 common mistakes made by organizations.

Leveraging leadership talent pools to win the talent war

In this HCI white paper, Frank Horvath, Principle Consultant at The Newman Group shares practical and effective ways organization can minimize the impact of the impending talent shortfall.

Succession planning templates

Get templates for conducting a talent bench review and constructing a 9-box grid, along with a guide to help you interpret the results.

Succession planning webinars


Succession planning keys to success

Hear why ~70% of succession planning programs fail in the long term and how you can set up a program that avoids the common pitfalls.

Zombies, grinders and superstars: the FOT talent/succession review

The team from Fistful of Talent give a quick, street smart presentation on how to bootstrap a talent review and get started with succession planning.

Leveraging leadership talent pools to win the talent war

This webcast covers research on the market drivers of succession planning, and how progressive organizations are leveraging talent pools for comprehensive talent development and performance management.

The leadership and management talent pipeline

Charles Elvin from the Institute of Leadership & Management explores why investing in leadership development can make all the difference, and how to develop a leadership and management talent pipeline.

Optimizing your succession plan

Dr. Rothwell differentiates between replacement planning and true succession planning, then walks you through a “STAR” model that outlines the 4 key elements of a best practice-based succession program.

Succession planning success stories


SNC-Lavalin O&M

By calibrating employee evaluations so they help develop organizational competencies, and by focusing on these rather than simply relying on past performance and technical skills when promoting employees, SNC-Lavalin Profac ensures team members are better positioned for success.

CarVal Investors

At CarVal Investors, they’re using performance appraisal outputs to guide the calibration conversations they have about employee performance and potential. They’ve also developed career ladders specific to different job families and levels within the organization, to prepare employees for career progression.

King’s Daughters Medical Center

King’s Daughters Medical Center realized the need to strategically prepare the hospital for the future with succession planning — not just to determine the next leaders, but to identify those staff who they may wish to put into specialty areas.

Other succession planning resources


Developing Leadership Talent: A guide to succession planning and leadership development

Part of the SHRM Foundation Effective Practice Guidelines series, this guide explores the difference between succession planning and replacement planning and how you can maximize leadership talent in your organization

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