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Design a High-Value Succession Planning Program

Succession planning is complex. Take a systematic approach to address all the moving parts.

  • Only 45% of HR professionals report that their organization has a succession plan. Of those, only 21% report having a formal succession plan (SHRM, 2021).
  • Organizations focus on top management roles without evaluating which critical roles would add the most value to the organization.
  • Because the stakes are so high in succession planning, and because of its complexity, implementing it poorly can do more harm than good.

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Speak With An Analyst.

  • Get on-demand project support
  • Get advice, coaching, and insight at key project milestones
  • Go through a Guided Implementation to help you get through your project

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Succession planning is a high-stakes, complex, and resource-intensive initiative. Maximize the value of succession planning to your organization by designing a systematic approach.

Impact and Result

  • Design a program that is value-driven, integrated, evidence-based, and inclusive to maximize value.
  • Ensure leaders are accountable for conducting succession planning, with the support, process design, and facilitation of HR.

Succession Planning

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This program has been approved for continuing professional development (CPD) hours under Section A of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Log of the Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA).

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McLean & Company is recognized by SHRM and can award Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®.

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HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) official seal confirms that McLean & Company meets the criteria for pre-approved recertification credit(s) for any of HRCI’s eight credentials, including SPHR® and PHR®.

How to complete this course:

Use these videos, along with the Project Blueprint deck above, to gain an understanding of the subject. Start with the Introduction, then move through each of the Course Modules. At the end of each Module, you will be required to complete a short test to demonstrate your understanding. You will complete this course when you have completed all of the course tests.

  • Number of Course Modules: 5
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Learning Outcome

After completing this course, learners will be equipped to successfully build a succession plan using the four key principles that should frame a succession plan and McLean & Company’s five-step succession planning process.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Understand the basics of succession planning.
  • Be guided on how to create an effective succession plan unique to their organization.
  • Recognize and overcome obstacles during the succession planning process.

All of our McLean Academy courses have closed captioning available. To turn this function on, click on the C.C. in the bottom right corner of the video screen and click "English" in the options that pop up.

Course Modules

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Introduction: Introduction

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Module 1: Module 1

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Module 2: Module 2

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Module 3: Module 3

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Module 4: Module 4

Workshop: Design a High-Value Succession Planning Program

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Set Program Direction

The Purpose

Establish the program direction, metrics, and enabling HR drivers.

Key Benefits Achieved

Aligned purpose for succession planning that drives a high-value program




Articulate the need for succession planning.

  • Need established

Identify enabling HR programs and gaps.

  • HR-enabling programs identified

Establish program goals and metrics.

  • Goals and metrics

Module 2: Customize Succession Planning Tools

The Purpose

Design the succession planning tools in alignment with the program direction.

Key Benefits Achieved

An organization-customized solution for critical role profile and individual talent profile




Customize the Critical Role Identifier Tool

  • Critical Role Identifier Tool customized

Develop Role Profile Template and Individual Talent Profile Template

  • Role Profile Template
  • Talent Profile Template

Define process for identifying critical roles

Module 3: Design the Succession Identification Process

The Purpose

Create an identification process that is systematic.

Key Benefits Achieved

An objective approach to succession identification that is inclusive.




Determine how to identify employees

  • Employee identification method

Review talent assessment approach

  • Talent readiness criteria

Design successor identification process and meetings

  • Succession Plan Template
  • Succession identification process

Module 4: Outline Successor Development and How Critical Roles Will Be Filled

The Purpose

Highlight an integrated development program that ensures successor develops the knowledge needed to succeed the role.

Key Benefits Achieved

A program to ensure and monitor successor development and selection.




Outline successor development and knowledge transfer process

  • Successor development and knowledge transfer process outlined

Determine how critical roles will be filled

  • Role replacement method

Module 5: Prepare for Program Launch and Communication

The Purpose

Create a succession planning implementation schedule.

Key Benefits Achieved

A planned launch and management of the succession program




Outline approach to ongoing program management

  • Program management process outlined

Determine key logistics for implementation

  • Key implementation logistics identified

Identify high-level communications

  • High-level communication messages determined
Design a High-Value Succession Planning Program preview picture

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 3-phase advisory process. You'll receive 10 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Set the program direction
  • Call 1: Identify gaps in enabling HR programs and identify steering committee members.
  • Call 2: Review program goals and metrics.
  • Call 3: Define stakeholder roles.

Guided Implementation 2: Design the succession planning process
  • Call 1: Develop critical role criteria, profile template, and process.
  • Call 2: Develop talent identification process, talent profile template, and process.
  • Call 3: Discuss talent calibration and talent review meeting design.
  • Call 4: Plan alignment of L&D and Talent Acquisition to succession planning.

Guided Implementation 3: Prepare to launch & manage the program
  • Call 1: Review communication plan.
  • Call 2: Discuss the logistics for program launch and management, including additional items that need to be built.
  • Call 3: Discuss program measurement, improvements, and iteration.


  • Amanda Mathieson, Senior Manager of Talent Management, Tangerine
  • Chris Toth, Manager of Workforce Planning, FedEx Freight
  • Gail Voisin, CEO, Gail Voisin Executive Coaching
  • Ilia Maor, Practice Lead of Research & Advisory Services, Enterprise Applications, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Jason Sage, HR Director, Caterpillar Inc.
  • John Figiel, Director of Talent Management, Sinai Health System
  • Lepora Menefee, VP of HR, NexGen People
  • Lori Kantymir, Manager of Learning & Development Solutions, McLean & Company
  • Maria Elena Aragon, Talent & Leadership Development Manager, DHL Express (Canada), Ltd.
  • Nadia Falcone, Talent Management Consultant, City of Ottawa
  • Tracy L. Chambers, Senior Manager, Talent & Organization, Accenture