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Design a High-Value Succession Planning Program

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

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  • 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

  • Succession planning has been rated the least effective or second least effective area of HR for five years in a row (McLean & Company HR Trends Report, 2014-2018).
  • Organizations focus on top management roles without evaluating which critical roles 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.

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 that leaders are accountable for conducting succession planning, with the support, process design, and facilitation of HR.

Research & Tools

2. Design the succession planning process

Design your program, customize key tools and templates, and prepare for calibration sessions.

3. Prepare to launch & manage the program

Develop a communications plan and create an implementation schedule.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a ten call advisory process.

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.

Onsite Workshop

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Onsite 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 onsite 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

  • Set your succession planning project up right by establishing the program direction

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Program direction and key criteria are set
  • Program is ready to move forward with design




Articulate the need for succession planning

  • Need for succession planning is established

Identify enabling HR programs and gaps

  • Enabling HR programs are evaluated

Establish program goals and metrics

  • Goals and metrics are determined

Customize the Critical Role Identifier tool

  • Critical Role Identifier is customized

Module 2: Design the Succession Planning Process

The Purpose

  • Design your succession planning program
  • Customize related tools and templates

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Succession planning program designed and ready for launch
  • Tools and templates customized to the organization’s employees and critical roles




Develop Role Profile Template and process

  • Role Profile Template is developed

Develop Talent Profile Template and process

  • Talent Profile Template and process created

Determine how to identify employees

  • Employee identification discussed and agreed upon

Define talent readiness and customize the Succession Plan Template

  • Talent readiness criteria defined and Succession Plan Template customized

Design successor identification process and meetings

  • Successor identification process determined

Module 3: Prepare for Program Launch & Communication

The Purpose

  • Prepare for the launch of the succession planning program by outlining logistics and communications
  • Determine how institutional knowledge will be retained come vacancies

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Communication plan and logistics ready to launch
  • Process to retain institutional knowledge is determined




Outline successor development and knowledge transfer process

  • Successor development and knowledge transfer process outlined

Determine how critical roles will be filled

  • Role placement methods determined

Outline logistics for implementation and program management

  • Program logistics and management are set

Create communications

  • Organization-wide communications are created