Succession Planning


Succession planning attempts to ensure there is a pool of leadership talent for the future success of the company. Management does this by identifying the most talented people in the organization and grooming them for roles as future leaders or experts in their fields.


The Importance of Planning for the Future


Shifting demographics have made it essential for organizations to look seriously at the resources they need to fill many roles—especially specialized roles and management positions. Succession planning is about identifying critical job positions and preparing to move people into those positions as the employees who occupy them leave. For more information, see the CPIA issues paper, "Talent Pipeline for the Future"


To ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruptions to staff and day-to-day operations, be proactive and think ahead.




Succession planning may not seem like a priority - it distracts you from current emergencies and you won't likely see the results today. However, if you don't take time to plan for future vacancies—and a key employee resigns with little warning - you may end up paying a terrible price.


Critical Benefits of Succession Planning

  1. Employees better understand the organization's long-term goals and objectives.
  2. Business owners use effective planning tools to clearly identify developmental needs of their future leaders.
  3. Employees better understand what the company wants, what skills and talents are highly valued and how to work toward better future positions.

Succession Planning Do's and Don'ts


  • DO
    • Commit to training your employees
      • Invest time and money in your development program; provide training opportunities to ensure staff is ready to move into the positions when the time comes.
      • Customize training to the individual skills and needs of your employees while you meet the specific needs of your organization.
    • Create a vision
      • Anticipate where your organization will be in one, three and five years. How large will it be? What services will it offer? What kind of staff will you need to offer those services? Plan accordingly.
    • Know your staff
      • Understand their strengths and weaknesses.
      • Identify those who are committed to, and likely to stay with, your organization.
    • Consider all employees
      • You can find some hidden talents in quieter employees who might need encouragement.
      • Focusing only on the top performers or the ones who volunteer to take on the positions may limit your options.
    • Communicate with your employees
      • Share your succession plan with employees; they may be able to contribute valuable ideas.
      • Involving employees will motivate them and demonstrate that they have a future in your organization.
  • DON'T
    • Underestimate the talent of your employees
      • Don't overlook your internal employees in favour of outsiders.
      • Don't underestimate your current employees' knowledge of your organization - or the time it would take a newcomer to be brought up to speed.
    • Focus only on hard skills
      • It is relatively easy to train hard skills, whereas soft skills - such as communications and teamwork - can be more important determinants of an employee's success, and are much harder to find or train.
    • Expect employees to self-identify
      • Identifying talent is a joint responsibility between employer and employee.
    • Be judgmental and narrow-minded
      • Don't overlook employees who you think are too young, too old.