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Implement Flexible Succession Plans to Support Organizational Continuity

Design agility into succession plans to increase bench strength and responsiveness to planned and unplanned vacancies.

  • Succession plans need to not only mitigate risks of vacancies in critical roles but also ensure employees are being purposefully developed and engaged. Career development is especially important as it was cited as the number one reason for leaving an organization according to McLean & Company’s Exit Survey.
  • Organizations are looking for a standard process for succession planning, when in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Succession planning is a continuous process that requires regular assessments and modifications to keep up with the pace of change in our world of work.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Not all roles are equal some are more important to the organization than others. Succession plans need to focus on critical roles within the organization to ensure the efficient use of efforts and resources.
  • Organizations need to be agile in their approach to succession planning. Certain critical roles require a conventional succession plan while others are better suited for shared talent pools.

Impact and Result

  • Focus succession plans on critical roles to ensure the efficient use of efforts and resources.
  • Create role groups to develop cross-functional capabilities.
  • Facilitate multiple calibration sessions to populate talent pools.
  • Ensure succession plans remain relevant by evaluating talent pools regularly and planning through the transition process.

Implement Flexible Succession Plans to Support Organizational Continuity Research & Tools

1. Set succession plan goals and assess readiness

Address gaps in supporting talent management practices based on program goals and objectives.

2. Identify critical roles & role groups

Identify critical roles and create role groups.

3. Identify potential successors and create talent pools

Calibrate and populate talent pools.

4. Define framework for successor selection and transition process

Define selection and maintenance processes.

Succession Planning

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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

Identify critical roles at all levels to include in succession planning, group similar roles so that they may share a talent pool, and populate talent pools through calibration processes.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Discuss how succession plans can be agile/flexible.
  • Describe the steps involved in creating a flexible succession plan, and explain how to tailor them to their organization.
  • Explain how succession planning integrates with talent management.

Course Modules

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Module 1

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Module 2

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Module 3

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Module 4

Workshop: Implement Flexible Succession Plans to Support Organizational Continuity

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 Goals, Assess Key TM Practices, and Create Role Profiles

The Purpose

  • Make the case for designing an agile succession plan.
  • Set SMART goals and objectives.
  • Identify key gaps.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Use McLean & Company’s framework to add flexibility to succession plans.
  • A vision for the succession planning process.
  • A plan of action to address gaps and integrate talent management practices.




Set succession planning goals and objectives.

  • Succession planning goals, objectives, and metrics of success

Assess key talent management (TM) practices that support succession planning.

  • Assessment of TM practices
  • Plan of action to address any TM gaps

Identify critical roles and create individual role profiles.

  • Completed role profiles

Module 2: Create Role Groups and Prepare to Populate Talent Pools

The Purpose

  • Organize and profile roles to create talent pools.
  • Prepare for talent calibration sessions.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Critical roles identified.
  • Talent pools populated.




Group like roles.

  • Role groups identified and their profiles defined

Create role group profiles.


Determine minimum criteria for employees to be placed in talent pool.

  • Minimum criteria for talent pools identified

Set up process to gather information on talent.

  • Process to gather employee information set

Prepare for calibration sessions.

  • Prepared to conduct talent calibration sessions

Module 3: Define Implementation Action Plan

The Purpose

  • Prepare to develop talent.
  • Roll out succession planning program.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Developed employees to succeed into key gaps.




Plan for development.

  • Plan of action for employee development

Define your selection process.

  • Defined selection process

Determine the rollout plan.

  • Identified succession planning implementation and maintenance plan

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 4-phase advisory process. You'll receive 8 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Set succession plan goals and assess readiness
  • Call 1: Discuss objectives of succession planning and set SMART goals and metrics of success.
  • Call 2: Assess foundational talent management practices and develop a plan of action to address any gaps.

Guided Implementation 2: Identify critical roles & role groups
  • Call 1: Assess critical roles, their individual role profiles, and determine criteria for role groups.
  • Call 2: Review role groups and discuss non-grouped roles.

Guided Implementation 3: Identify potential successors and create talent pools
  • Call 1: Identify minimum criteria for employees to be placed in talent pools.
  • Call 2: Determine process to gather employee information and prepare for talent calibration sessions.
  • Call 3: Discuss outcomes of talent calibration sessions and finalize talent pools.

Guided Implementation 4: Define framework for successor selection and transition process
  • Call 1: Define your selection process and your succession planning maintenance plan.


  • Diane Bogino, President, Performance Strategies Inc.
  • Debra Dickerson, Career and Succession Planning Consultant
  • Melissa Gardner, HR Assistant, ZTR
  • Jeff Gross, CEO and Co-Founder, MyPeoplePlan
  • Donna Krakovsky, Strategic Human Resources Business Partner, Altus Group
  • Sharon Louie, Assistant Division Chef, Human Resources Division, CalPERS
  • Ilia Maor, Senior Manager – Research, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Jan Morris, Workforce Planning and Succession Manager, Federated Co-operatives
  • David Muratori, Talent Management Professional, Financial Sector
  • Tracy Paddison, HR Manager, ZTR
  • Sue Plaster, Consultant for Diversity, Succession Planning and Leadership, Sue Plaster Consulting
  • William Rothwell, Professor of Workforce Education and Development in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems Expert, Pennsylvania State University
  • Several Strategic Workforce Planning Professionals from a large North American financial institute