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Effective Succession Planning for Organizational Sustainability

Effective Succession Planning for Organizational Sustainability

Changes in organizational leadership are inevitable, but succession planning continues to be a major concern. Check out the steps that can help organizations design an effective succession plan.

The complex world of modern businesses has made organizational management one of the most complex aspects of running an establishment. One of the biggest challenges businesses tend to overlook is succession planning. While the board members and leaders regularly focus on strategic development to expand the business, succession planning seldom receives the required attention.

As per a 2017 global survey by KPMG, only 14% of the 2,300 directors interviewed agreed to have a detailed succession plan. Even the companies that do have a comprehensive plan often associate succession planning with the C-suite members. But successful companies look beyond the leadership roles and focus on recognition and preparation of a strong workforce through training, mentoring, and development to help their transition into a better position in the company.

Human resources, board members, and the executive team are required to work together to ensure smoother transitions. To achieve this, it is essential for an organization to lay a strong foundation for their succession plan. Here are a few tips that can help lay this strong foundation-

1. Commitment by Top Management

Many organizations think of succession planning as a one-off event. In reality, however, it is a long-term process, which is generally spread across several years. This is because its successful implementation abundantly relies on creating a pipeline of deserving employees.

The role of top management is crucial in the process, as their involvement will set the right expectations for all the departments of the organization. Senior managers should invest their efforts and time into the process and display their commitment in every way possible to let the entire organization understand its importance.

2. Developing Assessment Tools

For any succession plan to work, it is vital for the organization to have a rigorous and robust system in place for assessment. It is only with the help of the assessment system that an organization can identify deserving talent.

After identification, the organization should plan to offer training, coaching, and mentoring to help employees take up a senior role. The assessment system should be measurable, experience-based, and individualized to help deliver the expected results.

3. Identifying Talent Gaps

If your assessment system is effective, it will be easier for you to find talent gaps between the future needs in the company’s leadership and the current pool of talent. This will help you decide whether you need an external search or you already have someone in the organization that can be promoted.

Irrespective of what you decide, it is crucial first to understand the future goals of your organization thoroughly. This foresight will help you select candidates whose vision already matches the future needs of your organization.

4. Communication is the Key

For a succession plan to work, it is imperative for an organization to build a culture that revolves around transparency. Open dialogues with the employees regarding their career aspirations in the organization and using this information for optimizing the performance management process can play a crucial role.

This transparency and communication will prevent any misinterpretation with regards to the actual purpose of the succession plan. Otherwise, it is quite likely for the workforce, especially managers and leaders, to assume they have a bleak future in the organization.

5. Facilitating Transition

When it’s time for the transition, the organization should try to make it as smooth as possible for the outgoing as well as the incoming leaders. Most organizations make sure that the incoming leader gets to work with the outgoing leader for at least a few months.

This practice provides much-needed support to the incoming leader or manager. Being prepared with the transition in advance and communicating the plan clearly with all the parties involved can take you a long way in making the transition productive and seamless.

Ensuring Success with a Succession Plan

There is no denying the fact that building a talent pipeline, especially for replacing leaders and managers, can be very challenging.

But the organizations that do invest the time and effort on building a solid succession plan are known to gain a competitive edge. And in this age where competition is at its peak across every sector, it is remiss to let any advantage pass by.

Focus on the points discussed above, and build a robust succession plan to be better prepared for the constantly changing business landscape.


  1. Levine, S. R. (2017, May 24). Succession Planning Needs To Be Your No. 1 Priority. Retrieved from

Chander Sharma
Founder and Managing Partner,
bizXL Solutions

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