Succession Planning best practices for HR teams

April 2023

With global job market uncertainty, and many industries suffering a skills shortage across departments, HR teams are tasked with finding ways to keep talent in their organisations for as long as possible.


According to The Adecco Group’s Global Workforce of the Future report, 34% of workers surveyed who wanted to change jobs in the next 12 months said that a lack of career progression, upskilling and training was the top reason for their decision. It can be frustrating for workers to be passed over for potential opportunities in favour of an external hire, when they may feel they have a much better idea of what the position needs to be successful.


To help combat a loss of talent and frustration among the workforce, HR teams can utilise succession planning to their, and their company’s advantage.

Succession planning is the process of identifying potential future leaders and senior managers in your organisation and investing time and resources to better prepare them for critical roles within the company. The aim of the process is that, if someone in a key position at a company leaves, the role can be filled quickly and easily with someone well-prepared for the job. 

The major benefit of succession management is ensuring that critical positions are filled by the right people. According to Gallup, companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. Ill-equipped managers cost companies billions each year through ineffective resource management, talent management, and time lost in training on the job. If companies can avoid this pitfall, they can save themselves essential time, money, resources, and talent within the business.


This isn’t the only benefit of an effective succession plan. Companies can also enjoy perks such as:

  • Reduced hiring costs
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Increased employee performance
  • Increased employee retention

Succession plans look different depending on the organisation and departments they’re attached to. But in general, most succession plans include:

  • A defined goal or aim for the succession plan e.g., to help employees move into leadership roles, increase production of a certain department, etc.
  • A list of tasks required to reach this goal.
  • A timeline of how long employee development is expected to take to get to the required level. This will depend on how much short or long-term succession planning is necessary for your organisation.
  • Budget: How much money is your company willing to invest in this programme? 

If you want to implement a succession plan in your organisation, but aren’t sure where to start, here is a step-by-step process.

  1. Name the significant challenges your business is likely to face over the next one to five years.
  2. Identify the types of roles that will be critical in supporting the business through these challenges.
  3. Consider the key skills that the ideal candidates for these roles would possess. What level of institutional knowledge is necessary for the right candidate? Could the soft/hard skills needed for these roles be taught as part of a training programme?
  4. Look at your company’s current talent pool and consider who could be a high-potential candidate for future roles. Look at their skillsets and assess their personality fits for the role. Consider their career goals and whether they could align with the company’s long-term aims.
  5. Work with these high-potential employees to assess their current competencies and any skill gaps they may need to work on.
  6. Offer the necessary training to prepare high performers for professional development. 
  7. Challenge potential successors with high-level projects and assignments, coaching them on how to level up their abilities.
  8. Have regular check-ins with your chosen candidates, giving the opportunity for feedback and questions on the process as it continues.


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