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Succession Planning and Why You Need One

Succession Planning and Why You Need One

succession planningSuccession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic way. Organizations facing daily challenges ensure that thinking about who the next executive director might be or what would happen if the director of finance suddenly left is not high on their priority list.

There are many reasons why organizations need to be thinking about succession planning. The most important reason, of course, is that we rely on staff to carry out our missions, provide services and meet our organization’s goals. We need to think about what would happen to those services or our ability to fulfill our mission if a key staff member left.

Another reason to focus on succession planning is the changing realities of workplaces. The impending retirement of the baby boomers is expected to have a major impact on workforce capacity.

Today the number one issue facing a  large portion of the small and medium sized organizations is quality employees.

  • Vacancies in senior or key positions are occurring in numerous organizations simultaneously and demographics indicate there are statistically fewer people available to fill them
  • Baby boomer retirements are on the rise just at the time when the economy is growing and increasing the demand for senior management expertise
  • There is no emerging group of potential employees on the horizon as in past generations (i.e. baby boomers, women entering the workforce, large waves of immigration)
  • Many organizations eliminated middle manager positions during restructuring or survivable mode in during the banking crises of 2008 and worldwide recession this triggered.
  • Younger managers interested in moving up do not have the skills and experience required because they have not been adequately mentored. This is because middle managers, who would normally perform this type of coaching role, were eliminated


With careful planning and preparation, organizations can manage the changes that result from a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organization.

Although the type and extent of planning will be different, organizations both large and small need to have some sort of succession plan. Effective succession planning supports organizational stability and sustainability by ensuring there is an established process to meet staffing requirements. Boards and executive directors can demonstrate leadership by having the strategies and processes in place to ensure that these transitions occur smoothly, with little disruption to the organization.

So to help you begin to put a succession plan into place we have broken this into 5 Key Steps to building a

Step 1: Identify critical positions

Critical positions are the focus of succession planning efforts. Without these roles, the department or agency would be unable to effectively meet its business objectives. Workforce projection data or demographic analysis is essential in identifying risk areas. A risk assessment may also be conducted and compared to current and future vacancies to identify critical positions within your organization.

Step 2: Identify competencies

A clear understanding of capabilities needed for successful performance in key areas and critical positions is essential for guiding learning and development plans, setting clear performance expectations, and for assessing performance. By completing the process of competency or position profiling within your organization, current and future employees gain an understanding of the key responsibilities of the position including the qualifications and behavioural and technical competencies required to perform them successfully.

Step 3: Identify succession management strategies

Now that critical positions have been identified and have been profiled for competencies, the next step is to choose from a menu of several human resource strategies, including developing internal talent pools, onboarding and recruitment to address succession planning.

Step 4: Document and implement succession plans
Once strategies have been identified, the next step is to document the strategies in an action plan. The Succession Planning: Action Plan provides a mechanism for clearly defining timelines and roles and responsibilities.

Step 5: Evaluate Effectiveness
To ensure that the department or agency’s succession planning efforts are successful, it is important to systematically monitor workforce data, evaluate activities and make necessary adjustments.

 If you need more information or would like to speak to someone then please do not hesitate to reach out to us.  We’re here to help.

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