Succession planning is a process for identifying, recruiting, training and mentoring high-performing employees with leadership potential, preparing them to step into senior or executive positions when vacancies occur. It ensures a company can continue to run smoothly during planned or unplanned leadership changes.
Generally, succession planning involves:
- Assessing current and future needs based on the company’s strategic plan and the goals of priority programs or projects
- Identifying employees whose skills, talents and potential will best help the company meet its needs
- Developing plans to manage any gaps in skills or capabilities that could occur if a key leader or leaders were to leave the company
Succession planning should focus on all key positions, not just the most senior managers or executives. Any job that may be hard to fill because of skill, seniority or experience should be considered.
More about succession planning
While succession planning typically involves internal talent development and coaching, it can also include external recruitment (finding people outside the company who could fill key roles) to ensure a rapid response to leadership change.
For small companies it is important to understand and document the work completed by key people–what they spend their time doing and how they do it. This is the first step in an effective succession plan.