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Tips for Developing a Succession Plan

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Succession planning is an often-undervalued task when it comes to organizational management. Learning the job of your boss and teaching your job to your direct reports is a key element in building strong organizations and achieving depth of skill. Have you developed a succession plan for yourself or your direct reports? No? That’s ok – here are some tips on building out a great succession plan.

Identify Potential Candidates

Look to within your team to see who you have who could potentially fill your role. It doesn’t need to be today, so you don’t necessarily need to pick the most experienced person. Discuss with your team, understand who has a desire to move up in the organization and take on a broader set of responsibilities. Sometimes this can translate into a career development plan which dovetails nicely into succession planning as well. You want to pick those candidates who have both the desire and potential (if not the existing ability) to do the job right.

Start Job-Shadowing

One of the best ways to acquire skills is to just dive right in and start doing. Pick out the key elements of your job and have one or several of your candidates start to shadow you for parts of your days. Show them how you do your job and communicate the expectations that are set upon you so that they know what they would be expected to do should the day come where they are asked to step into that position. Make sure they ask questions and ask questions of them – make sure they understand not only the ‘how’ but the ‘why’.

Supervised Delegation

As your selected candidates gain more confidence you can switch from job-shadowing to more of a delegation type scenario. Have them take on some key tasks on their own but with close supervision and mentoring. Let them drive but be the guardrails to keep them from veering off too far. Slowly as the skills begin to develop, so does the confidence of them being able to do the job effectively (both from yourself and them). As you continue to increase the distance by which you supervise them taking on these tasks you will yourself find the freedom to be taking on the same type of responsibilities from your superior as part of their succession planning.

Succession planning does not happen overnight and requires a lot of thought, planning, desire and patience to do it right. Identifying, developing then trusting your teams is vital to the success of your organization’s succession planning and by following these tips, you’ll be set up for success(ion)!


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