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Succession planning in business isn’t as robust as it needs to be, but it’s imperative to know who will be ready to take the reigns when the time comes.


Growing a business is no easy task, and so, when you feel like you’ve hit a sweet spot – everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to and processes are running as they should – it’s easy to get complacent. The problem is that, even if you’re cruising on calm seas for the moment, a storm could be just around the corner. You can never stop thinking “what’s next?” for your organisation. Most importantly, what is your succession management plan?

In a global survey of 2,300 directors conducted by KPMG in 2017, only 14% of directors said they had a detailed board succession plan in place. It seems that, even though businesses are focusing on new strategies due to adjusting budgets and new-age employee engagement, they’re failing to answer the most important questions: is next generation of leaders ready to take over when the current ones retire? In fact, are employees ready to fill roles at all levels of your business?

Good Succession Management is about figuring out the estimated time of arrival of an employee to a specific position within the company. The trick is to to work out the distance of successors from target positions, and the speed at which they are travelling, in order to estimate their time of arrival – and prepare their development plan to get there. Remember; it’s only when you’ve mapped out a person’s trajectory, that you can give them the tools to get there. Succession planning and development conversations go hand in hand.

So how do you determine an individual’s readiness to move to the new post? Two factors determine the gap between the person’s current position and their target position:

Their Ability

Does the person have the ability to perform in the target position? We need to look at their performance, their behavioral fit to the next level, their functional and business knowledge and their experience to determine their gap and understand what development to prioritize.

Their Aspiration

Does the person aspire to move to the target position? It’s all very well and good figuring out that your employee can move – but do they want to? If your succession plans happen in isolation – without input from your employees about their career goals – you could find yourself shocked by their answer when the time comes to move them.

That’s how you determine the distance – but what about the speed? How do you know how long it will take them to get there?

Their Agility

Do they have the emotional intelligence, institutional knowledge, and have they had enough time in their current position to move to the next position? Find out more on Identifying Growth Potential.

Succession planning should be a balance between data and opinion. Our processes recommends a discussion between the leaders of each function and your talent team, during which they can provide input about successors in a structured way – after all, the opinion of the succession owner (the person who will make the decision to hire) is very valuable.  Opinion alone is subjective, and should always be supported by good data. Our process provides a dual view of succession readiness, utilizing both data and opinion to help move your succession planning beyond ‘Ready Now, Ready Later’.

Look for a tool that will collect data about each of these factors, as well as interview succession owners, like TalentPrint. The combination of the two will allow for a much more informed decision as you plan for your business’ future.