Guide to Succession Plans + Succession Planning Templates
Succession planning is the process of identifying high-potential employees for key leadership roles within an organization and developing those individuals to ensure readiness to advance. Creating an effective succession plan requires both anticipating the needs of the business and determining how to ensure a steady flow of individuals who are ready to lead the organization.
Without the right tools and resources, many organizations can get derailed when attempting to create an effective succession plan. In fact, research by Deloitte found that although 86 percent of leaders believe leadership succession planning is an “urgent” or “important” priority, only 14 percent believe they do it well. By following a clear process and using available resources, it is possible to develop and execute your company’s succession plan. Here is a useful guide and some succession planning ideas and templates to help you get started:
We’ve created a simple succession planning worksheet, a competency-based succession planning template, and a CEO succession planning template. Click below to download the customizable succession planning templates.
The Succession Planning Process
Every good plan starts with a clear, well-thought-out process. Following a clear process ensures that key positions and people are carefully considered. The succession planning process typically consists of the following steps:
- Conducting a thorough review of key roles within the organization
- Determining the skills, knowledge, and competencies required to perform those roles
- Identifying individuals who could fulfill key roles
- Identifying the training and development that individuals require to become fully ready to perform key roles
- Regularly revisiting and evaluating the succession plan as it is implemented
Benefits of Succession Planning
A succession planning process is helpful during key times in an organization’s life cycle—for example, during a merger or acquisition, or ahead of the retirement of a CEO or the owner of a family-owned business. Succession plans provide organizations with the bench strength of potential leaders needed to support company growth. In addition, research shows that succession planning supports healthy employee engagement levels. According to one study, 94 percent of surveyed employers said that having a succession plan positively impacted employee engagement.
A succession plan can also help increase transparency within the organization and support overall employee retention. When employees have a full awareness of the career advancement and development opportunities that exist, they can make well-informed decisions about their future with the company.
Examples and Templates for Succession Planning
Investing time and resources into the company succession plan benefits the company and its employees. Some real-world examples demonstrate the many ways succession planning works within an organization:
- Barneys New York followed its succession plan for CEO by naming a leader who had risen through the ranks and filled a number of leadership roles in the company. When she ultimately took the top job, she had already spent time working side by side with the outgoing CEO as his COO.
- Since Apple CEO Tim Cook took over for Steve Jobs, the company has remained focused on its succession plan, with Cook saying, “Every Apple board meeting in recent years has had succession planning on the agenda for all key executive roles.”
- McKinsey’s succession plan for partners focuses on providing them with opportunities to lead and be considered for election by their peers to the top position of global managing manager.
Getting started with succession planning doesn’t require starting from scratch. There are available succession planning templates that can be helpful as you begin to develop your company’s succession plan. One great example is Pingboard’s org chart planning platform, which allows companies to create collaborative versions of the fully integrated company org chart. Different org chart scenarios can be shared among key leaders for workforce and succession planning, providing both flexibility and efficiency. Other succession planning templates can be found here and here. Those templates possess some useful elements, but they will need heavy customization to fit your company’s structure—and they also don’t integrate with other talent management platforms.
Succession planning can benefit organizations of various sizes, industries, and stages of growth. Having a plan for leadership succession ensures that the organization has the talent it needs to grow. With the right process, and the resources to help implement it, any company can develop and execute an effective succession plan.
Ready to start creating your own succession plans? Fill out the form below to receive a simple succession planning worksheet, a competency-based succession planning template, and a CEO succession planning template.