Professional & Organizational Development

Succession planning

Succession planning is the process of identifying the critical positions within your organization and developing action plans for individuals to assume those positions. Taking a holistic view of current and future goals, this type of preparation ensures that you have the right people in the right jobs today and in the years to come.

In the long term, succession planning strengthens the overall capability of the organization by:

  • Identifying critical positions and highlighting potential vacancies;
  • Selecting key competencies and skills necessary for business continuity;
  • Focusing development of individuals to meet future business needs.

A succession plan identifies future staffing needs and the people with the skills and potential to perform in these future roles. Professional & Organizational Development’s Succession Planning Toolkit will help guide you, though we strongly suggest you involve your assigned HR consultant and/or HR administrator in this process as well.


We’ve broken succession planning down into three phases with clear steps, and the Succession Planning Toolkit (PDF) comprises a series of worksheets that move you through the succession planning process. Within this document, you’ll find templates and tips for:

  • Ensuring succession planning is closely tied to business strategy and goals;
  • Understanding the importance of engaging executive and senior leaders in the process;
  • Clearly defining the development of key talent; and
  • Ensuring staff understand their role in the process and know what is expected of them.
Assessment phase

Step 1: Identify significant business challenges in the next 1–5 years.

Step 2: Identify critical positions that will be needed to support business continuity.

Step 3: Identify competencies, skills, and institutional knowledge that are critical success factors.

Evaluation phase

Step 4: Consider high potential employees.

Step 5: Select the competencies individuals will need to be successful in positions and to meet identified business challenges.

Development phase

Step 6: Capture the knowledge that individuals possess before departing the organization.

Step 7: Develop a pool of talent to step into critical positions through targeted career development strategies.

Access and print the entire Succession Planning Toolkit (PDF).