Succession Planning

All businesses, social enterprises and voluntary and community organisations need to consider succession planning to enable their organisation to develop and thrive long term.

So what is succession planning?

“Succession planning may be broadly defined as a process for identifying and developing potential future leaders or senior managers, as well as individuals to fill other business-critical positions, either in the short or the long-term. In addition to training and development activities, succession planning programmes typically include the provision of practical, tailored work experience that will be relevant for future senior or key roles. []

Within the voluntary and community sector there is a need to ensure succession planning is at the forefront of our business development strategy. Within our sector it isn’t uncommon to have one charismatic leader or CEO whom the organisation would seriously struggle without. This is poor succession planning.

Succession planning is about developing people, improving and developing the next generation of leaders and ensuring knowledge is spread across different people within an organisation so it can continue without too much difficulty in the event of a loss of key staff members. See also Staff and Volunteer Management.

How to go about succession planning

We have outlined below some tips on succession planning, the Learning Skills and Improvement service has developed a short guide to succession planning which is a useful document for those considering it here.

The planning process needs to be a cyclical process, one which continually identifies mission critical positions, the potential future leaders and puts practical support and experience into developing the potential leaders.

In the voluntary and community sector we need to consider succession planning from a staff development perspective and a Board [Trustee] renewal and development strategy [see Governance].

Steps to take for good succession planning

  • Commit to succession planning at all levels in the organisation’s leadership [Trustees, managers, senior workers or those with speciality fields]
  • Identify roles that are mission critical on a regular basis
  • Identify those with the potential to assume greater responsibility in the organisation
  • Provide development experiences to those that can move into key roles
  • Improve employee commitment and retention
  • Meet the career development expectations of existing employees

Tips on good succession planning from Harvard Business Review here

See this advice on succession planning [also includes a quick assessment tool]