5 Considerations for Your Succession Planning Process

The Great Resignation and The Great Migration have elevated the importance of effective and actionable succession planning. But you’re not alone if you feel like your organization hasn’t found a process you’re confident in.

Many leaders have yet to figure out the best way to navigate succession planning, spending too many hours in spreadsheets that go nowhere. What’s troubling is that the most important part of a succession plan—the actual plan!—is often overlooked.

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Building a robust plan of action for your key roles and talent is critical in moving talent closer to where they need to be in a specific time period. 
In this article, we’ll discuss five key succession planning considerations that will reduce headaches and help you put “success” back into succession planning.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is the process of identifying the critical positions within your organization and developing action plans for individuals to take those positions. It ensures you have the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time today and tomorrow. Done well, succession planning helps organizations be ready when talent needs arise. It guides talent development over time and identifies talent risk.

A thoughtful succession planning process will help you:

  • Ensure continuity
  • Identify critical positions
  • Understand competency levels across the organization
  • Recognize high-potential talent
  • Develop your workforce
  • Gain valuable insights into your people and teams

5 Considerations for Effective Succession Planning

succession planning process candidate readiness1. Evaluate talent readiness.

Succession planning has traditionally been an HR responsibility. But managers most directly influence the development of identified successors. You need a succession planning process that empowers managers to take an active role in successor development—and that holds them accountable for movement.

Most traditional succession planning tools evaluate talent readiness in multi-year increments:

  • Ready in 1-2 years
  • Ready in 3-5 years
  • Ready in 5-7 years
But it’s too difficult to drive action and make adjustments with this model. To do that, your process must focus on development in smaller increments. A better practice is to evaluate talent readiness in 12-month increments, such as:
  • Ready now
  • Ready in 12 months
  • Ready in 24 months
  • Ready in 36 months
  • On the radar

These 12-month increments help managers take a more active and tangible role in successor development. By focusing on a smaller span of time, it’s easier to build a development plan and to measure the success of that plan. Smaller increments of time also help hold managers accountable for intentional development that drives employees toward readiness. 

For example, let’s say Susan needs to focus on two specific areas to be ready for a VP of Sales role in 12 months. Susan’s manager should be working with her on a development plan that drives her toward “Ready Now.” If after 12 months, her readiness hasn’t changed, her manager should be held accountable for that lack of movement.

succession planning process development goals

2. Regularly check in on talent development.

To help guide successors on their journey to a future role, you need to understand where they are today and their overall trajectory. And you need to check in along the way. Two ways to do this are to sync your success planning conversations with talent review data and documented development goals.

Syncing succession planning & talent reviews

Think about your talent reviews as a regular check-in on succession plans. Quarterly talent reviews help you evaluate and measure successor growth and development along the way. By understanding successor impact, growth trajectory, and retention risk, you can be more agile and adjust your succession plans as needed. 

Syncing succession planning and development goals

A key result of your succession planning process should be developmental goals for potential successors. Goals and stretch projects can be another measurement of candidate readiness. With goal tracking, leaders can see how a potential successor approaches new opportunities and can help plan for future transitions.

succession planning process talent risk3. Monitor talent risk.

The work is not done once your succession plan is created. You need to actively evaluate areas of risk within your plan. Be sure your succession planning tool integrates with your HRIS data—and that it’s set up to send alerts around key insights and events like:

  • A critical role is empty
  • A role has no identified successor
  • A successor is being considered for multiple roles

If you have multiple successors being considered for one role, be proactive about the development plans of the ones who don’t end up getting the role. You want to prevent attrition of those high potential team members—and keep them engaged and motivated to potentially fill future roles.

The same applies to successors who are “Ready Now” for a role that isn’t open. You’ll want to keep them challenged with stretch projects, interim positions, committees, etc.

succession planning process and DEI

4. Reflect on your DEI aspirations.

Checking your succession plan against your DEI goals helps you work smarter, not harder. It’s important to consider the implications of your future plans on your diversity and inclusion initiatives and metrics. You may want to:

  • See younger generations developed for leadership
  • Ensure accurate distribution of roles across locations
  • See higher gender or ethnic diversity on your leadership team

Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, a strong succession plan should align with your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.


succession planning process measuring success

5. Track the success of the plan.

A succession plan is most successful when leaders and managers regularly review and optimize the plan. You should track completed successions as they happen. And the status and progress of the plan should always be up-to-date and easy for leaders across the organization to view and understand.



Simplify your succession planning process with Quantum Workplace

The right tools can help you navigate succession planning like a well-oiled machine. Quantum Workplace’s succession planning tool helps ensure you have the right people in the right jobs at the right time, today and in the future. It syncs seamlessly with Quantum Workplace Talent Reviews & Goals to identify and develop your best talent and create continuity in your most critical roles.

Learn more about how Quantum Workplace can help you:

  • Capture talent, interest, and readiness to find the best successors for critical roles
  • Help successors grow and develop so they’re ready when called upon
  • Ensure your successor pool aligns with your diversity and inclusion aspirations
  • Make sound decisions when critical talent leaves
  • Provide a board-ready succession plan at your fingertips when you need it

Book a demo: Succession Planning

Published July 21, 2022 | Written By Scott Schoenbrun