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Succession Planning: What Is It and Why Should You Implement It

By Ze MingNo Comments

In the business world today, it is normal for current employees to leave the company and for new individuals to join in their place. As a result, making sure the right people are promoted or hired for the vacated positions is essential to the performance and continuity of the company. Companies need to create a plan that can identify potential candidates and plan for the departure of key employees.

When a company's key employee leaves without a defined strategy in place, the company's operations may suffer significantly. Employees may be left with no one to oversee their workflow, and important decisions may be put on hold until a suitable leader is selected, resulting in a halt in business operations.

Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to plan ahead of time for major employee departures. Succession planning is an efficient procedure that enables companies to identify potential candidates and prepare for a leadership role when key employees leave without disrupting operations

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a process of developing talent to replace executives or other key employees when they transition to new opportunities, are fired, retire, etc. Through the succession planning process, companies can discover potential candidates, enhance their abilities and knowledge, and prepare them for advancement or promotion into a more significant position in your company.

The succession planning process is designed to develop a talent pipeline of successors who will keep the organization functioning efficiently while maintaining the productivity and morale of the company when unexpected personnel changes occur. This process guarantees that companies have a sufficient number of employees ready and waiting to fill the key positions when they become vacant. 

Succession planning can be carried out by companies both internally and externally. Companies could either recruit experienced employees from another company or do it internally by identifying employees within the company who have the most potential for advancement.

The successors will then need to go through various training, such as on-the-job shadowing and cross-training. This is to help them develop into more well-rounded individuals with a better understanding of the company. However, it is not always possible for companies to find potential successors for every role.

Companies can offer employees the opportunity to cross-train in other roles and responsibilities to be prepared for the position. Cross-training ensures that employees are able to develop multiple skill sets and keep the mission on track if a key employee leaves.

Types of Succession Planning 

When implementing succession planning in the company, companies may want to create more than one type of succession plan to react to types of situations. There are three types of succession plans: Departure-defined succession plans, Emergency succession plans, and Strategic leadership succession plans.

Here's a more in-depth look at the three types of succession planning.

Succession Planning
Types of Succession Planning 

Departure-Defined Succession Plan

A Departure-Defined Succession Plan is a strategy that is implemented when a executive or key employee decides to leave the company. When the departure date of the executive is confirmed, this type of plan allows companies to devise a strategy to identify a suitable replacement for that position and share the expertise of the departing executive with the successor.

The purpose of a departure-defined succession plan is to offer continuous coverage for executive duties, which is critical to the ongoing operations and sustainability of the company once an executive or key employee plans their departure.

Emergency Succession Plan 

An Emergency Succession Plan is a strategy that may be employed when the company faces an unexpected transition. Every now and then, a key figure in the company will immediately depart for a number of reasons, such as health issues, an accident, or others.

This type of succession plan is designed to support companies in prioritizing leadership roles and establishing a succession sequence in order to maintain operations and keep everything running smoothly in the event of an unexpected transfer.

The Strategic Leadership Development Succession Plan

A Strategic Leadership Succession Plan is a strategy that involves naming a successor from a group of qualified candidates within the company. This process involves analyzing and evaluating specific skills or competencies in the shortlisted talent within an organization to identify top performers and empower those with leadership potential.

This type of succession plan is different from the other two plans as it is a long-term and future-focused plan to foster the next generation of leaders while keeping the organization's long-term vision in mind.

This form of succession planning is integral for any business as great leaders are considered a scarce commodity.

How to Create a Succession Plan?

Now that we've covered the foundations of succession planning, here are seven steps to help you build a solid succession company for your company.

Succession Planning
Succession Planning In 7 Steps

Define key positions

The succession planning process begins with identifying the company's key positions. There are various positions in the organization, but some are vital to the company's success. The productivity of these roles has the ability to help the organization boost its income and growth.

This indicates that they are vital to the company as these positions cannot be kept vacant for lengthy periods of time or will be very hard to replace. This step informs the company of which roles are the most important to it, allowing it to plan for departures accordingly.

Identify the need 

After identifying the company's essential jobs, this step assists the company in identifying which key positions may become vacant in the near future and begin filling gaps that may emerge as soon as possible. Companies can prioritize which roles to prepare for first by taking into account factors such as who will be retiring soon, the turnover rates of each position, and so on.

Construct Your Job Profiles

A job profile outlines the responsibilities that the position currently performs and key qualifications that are required for the role, such as talents, abilities, and personality types. By having a clear job profile, companies will have a clear vision of who the ideal individual is to fill this post in the future.

Companies may use the most productive employees as a benchmarking tool, allowing you to construct a job baseline of ability and personality traits in order to identify applicants who are most likely to succeed in each position.

Start The Recruiting Process

The recruitment process is where the process takes shape. As previously stated, the recruiting procedure can be conducted both internally and internationally. Companies can either recruit a more experienced employee from other companies or provide targeted upskilling for existing employees.

Even though the company is taking a proactive strategy, companies have to establish deadlines for finding a qualified applicant.

Appoint A Successor 

After the recruiting process, this step is to appoint a candidate who is able to take up this role. In addition to interviews, Companies can utilize more complicated metrics to discover suitable candidates. Companies can work with assessment centres, case studies, or work trials, to determine the best fit for the role.

Companies can also determine if the applicant is a cultural match, as the success of succession planning often depends on how well someone fits into the company's culture. As a result, they must be the proper match from multiple angles, not only whether they can do the job or not.

Hand Over The Job

During the handover process, the departing employee will be involved in the process in which the new employee will progressively learn their new responsibilities, both from their predecessor and future teammates and team leaders.

Companies should bear in mind that extra time should be given to new employees to manage these tasks in order for them to function smoothly. Companies should also avoid providing new employees too much time as they will be too influenced by how the role is performed and may miss out on the future-oriented abilities that this role needs to thrive.

Document The Transition

Now that the handover process of the job has now completed, companies need to document the transition. It is a crucial step for the company as it notes how the position was filled and will be used to inform future processes.

During this process, companies will also assess whether there are any challenges throughout the handover process or if there are any gaps across the whole succession planning process. It will assist businesses in improving succession planning strategies for similar opportunities that may become available in the future.

Reasons To Conduct Succession Planning 

After going through the fundamentals of succession planning and how to develop succession planning for your company, it is apparent that succession planning is an effective process that assists firms in planning for employee departures.

If you're still not convinced, here are three reasons why you should implement it in your company.

Help to preserve knowledge and expertise

Employees that have learned and evolved inside the organization have a wealth of knowledge. These employees are knowledgeable about the company's internal operations, processes, procedures, and the general industry. When these employees are not given opportunities for advancement, they will look for alternatives.

It means the company will lose not just a potential leader, but also information and skills that can be used to develop and teach the younger workers. With succession planning, employees can share knowledge with the potential successor. It provides the successor with the unique opportunity to gain valuable skills and knowledge without the need for a lengthy on-the-job learning curve.

Adapting To Demographic Changes And Talent Scarcity 

Another reason for businesses to conduct succession planning is to respond to changing demographics and a lack of skills. Because demographic transitions are unavoidable, candidates in the workforce will surely lack the experience and other crucial skill sets necessary for critical occupations as compared to their predecessors. As a result, companies will fight intensely for available talent in the workforce.

Companies consider the skills shortage to be a big issue that must be addressed as there aren't enough employees and competent applicants to fill an expanding number of high-skilled positions. These shifts have offered possibilities for companies to do comprehensive succession planning in order to fill anticipated skill shortages and adapt to demographic changes.

This is because succession planning enables businesses to preserve organizational expertise and pass it on to future generations of employees.

Boosting morale and retention 

The final reason for companies to conduct succession planning is that it helps to boost the morale and retention of the employee. By conducting succession planning, companies are able to identify employees who can be promoted to leadership positions when the requirement arises. By creating a visible investment in training and promoting workers within the company, these initiatives can significantly enhance employee engagement and morale.

According to Herzberg's theory of motivation, motivators such as employee achievement and recognition of needs may enhance the motivation of the employees and enable them to be more productive, creative, and committed. By investing in training and promoting workers within the company, employees will feel more appreciated and challenged, which will encourage them to stay with the company for a longer period.


To summarise, succession planning is an effective tool for companies to plan for the departure of key personnel by identifying and training candidates with high potential to fill those positions. It will allow for a seamless transition in the role and prevent the company from being held up due to the employee's departure.

Aside from that, succession planning comes in different forms, allowing businesses to deal with a wide range of scenarios. Companies that have an effective succession plan in place will be ready to deal with present and unforeseen departures while not disrupting company planning for the future by selecting candidates that suit the company's long-term vision. 

Hence, succession planning is an effective procedure that should be implemented in your company if you want to ensure that your company always has suitable individuals in the right positions.


What is Succession Planning?

Types of Succession Planning 

How to Create a Succession Plan?

Reasons To Conduct Succession Planning 

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