Developing Your Bench Strength Through Business Succession Planning

Planning for both the foreseen and unexpected absences of people who hold key positions in an organization is a task that employers often avoid or engage in only informally. Worse yet, we sometimes limit the planning to the “C-Suite.”

Without a concentrated effort on succession planning strategy, a business that has been successful can quickly fail if one or more of its key employees are lost. Succession planning must be a priority for every business and should be part of its strategic business plan.

What is Succession Planning?

Penn State University professor William Rothwell, Ph.D., defines success planning as “a deliberate and systematic effort by an organization to ensure leadership continuity in key positions, retain and develop intellectual and knowledge capital for the future, and encourage individual advancement.”

Watch This Seminar to learn more about how to develop a Succession Plan in your company.

 Why is Business Succession Planning Important?

According to a survey conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council:
72% of companies predict they’ll have an increasing number of leadership vacancies over the next 3-5 years.

At the same time, 76% of respondents are “less than confident” in their abilities to staff these positions.

Companies that create an effective Succession Planning process:

  • Quickly anticipate and fill succession gaps
  • Identify employees with high management potential and actively plan their careers
  • Align their “people strategy” with their “business strategy”

An organization’s ability to meet these requirements creates the kind of leadership and management capacity that delivers sustainable business results.

How I Help You Create Your Succession Plan

I develop succession plans by working with your senior management team to identify high-potential employees, evaluate and hone their skills and abilities, and prepare them for advancement into positions that are key to the success of business operations and objectives.

My succession plans are typically developed through the following steps:

  1. Identify legal and diversity issues to consider.
  2. Establish present and future leadership roles and objectives.
  3. Select key employees.
  4. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and readiness for succession in key employees.
  5. Plan for the individual talent development of and ways to retain key employees.
  6. Identify “emergency” positions without successors.
  7. Plan for positions that cannot be filled internally.

Ultimately, organizations need to find ways to help their high-potential, future leaders balance their work and personal lives. Generational influences also impact employees’ views on career and talent development. Smart companies consider these items when developing their organizational structures.

It is important to remember throughout the succession planning process that succession planning can be used to fill lateral positions as well.

How I Help Businesses Create their Succession Plans

My Succession Plans address both short-term emergency vacancies, as well as long-term retirement vacancies. As such, your senior management team will be consulted to determine the priorities and timeline of the training and development plans.

I also include a coaching element for the incumbents, which assists them in effectively implementing the Succession Plan. The input of the current key executives is critical to this process.

Key Questions to ask are:

  • “What does my company value most about its leadership?”
  • “What improvements would I like to see?”
  • “What is our philosophy about leadership?”
  • “What leadership skills are crucial to company success?”

The development plans designed must account for the ability to solve tomorrow’s problems. The value of the incumbents’ wisdom and years of experience with the organization cannot be understated.

The goal of this process is not to make current management replaceable, but to secure future leaders and the continuity, continued growth, and success of our clients.

I always encourage my clients to plan for both current AND future skills needs and to integrate the succession planning process with other human resources initiatives, such as performance management and organizational development.

“Most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.”


-Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, Pepsico, Inc.

Contact me today at 717-546-9149 or to get started on your succession planning process!