HR for Beginners 101: Succession Planning

Has Your Company Been Succession Planning?

What is succession planning? In business, succession planning is the actions of developing internal employees who have potential to fill essential leadership roles within a company. It is a strategy that can be developed in an organization for identifying and developing future leaders for all major roles at all levels. This often includes having the right financial structure in place so that the value of your business continues to increase down the road.

Who should succession plan? If you have a team member who you know is going to be leaving the company, it is best to start succession planning to avoid being caught off guard and becoming disoriented. Maybe your company has had a hire turnover recently and its becoming hard to keep up with filling the vacant roles. Remember, employees are fixed assets and changes in your team will eventually happen. Organizations who plan to expand their operations and who have the issues mentioned should definitely have a succession plan in place.

Why should I succession plan? Being prepared for the likely event of losing key employees as the organization expands is always a good idea. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s 2006 survey suggested that one third of owners of independent businesses plan to exit their business within 5 years and the remaining two thirds plan to exit within the next 10 years. Succession planning will support ownership future goals by ensuring that the company is prepared for the transfer of power and that the leaders in a company are educated, qualified and skilled enough to manage the longevity of the business. A smooth transition to filling vacant company roles alleviates a ton of potential problems and bottlenecks.

When should I succession plan? When your company is starting to take off. Another ideal time to succession plan is when a person is hired and at the very beginning of the employee development process or program. Reviews of your succession plan should be something that should happen frequently throughout the year. Once you start, it should become continual.

Here are a few tips to kickstart your succession planning:

  • identify the key roles in the organization and the impact they have on the company/department
  • pinpoint the competencies needed to undertake each role
  • list the pools of talent that could fill and perform well in the key roles
  • choose the team members and let them know why they are becoming proteges
  • develop employees in ways to prepare them for advancement into key roles like allowing for job rotations and invest in professional development
  • integrate the new succession plan into your hiring strategy
  • test the succession plan to make sure the protégé has what it takes (for example: have a protégé assume responsibilities of a manager who is taking vacation)

Contact our HR Specialist – Vanessa Gerard ( for your succession planning needs.

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