Succession & Career Planning

Succession planning is having in place measures to identify and develop potential successors for key or strategic posts in an organization. It is different from replacement planning which grades employees on the basis of their past performance. Succession planning nurtures future talent to lead the organization.
Career planning, on the other hand, is done for all positions in the organization. However, both succession and career planning are an integral part of career management policy.
Succession and career planning is the process of identifying, nurturing, developing, and training new leaders for future requirements or replacement of the existing leaders to continue the trend of dependable leadership in the organization.
Following are the stages to follow to ensure fruitful succession and career planning −
  • Identify the Critical Position − Organization should always keep a watch on what are the key elements or contributors to their business, how to motivate and retain talent, and what will be the next step if the main contributors leave the organization due to any reason. Who are the specialized people to perform the critical role?
  • Analysis − This stage tells about the requirements to fill with a fit successor. What are the gaps? What are the internal and external sources to fill the gaps, what will be the strategy? What will be the competencies required?
  • Development of Succession and Career Plan − It is also called as backup plan to streamline the function of the organization. It identifies the requirements and outlines a strategy to fill the gap and make sure that functions are being performed well.
  • Evaluate, Monitor, and Observe − This is the process of evaluation. It involves constant monitoring, even after the gap or requirement is fulfilled. Performance is observed to find out if any changes are required. In case if any changes are required, quick action is taken.

Replacement Vs Succession

The following table lists a few differences between Replacement and Succession.
It is reactiveIt is proactive
It is based on risk managementIt is based on future development
It is substitutingIt is renewing
It is a narrow approachIt is a broad approach
It is restrictedIt is flexible

Roadblocks to Succession and Career Planning

Organizations have to face many barriers while implementing succession and career planning. Following is the list of roadblocks −
  • Delay in planning
  • Dividing the business equally among partners
  • Trusting the inheritor
  • Being secretive about the plan
  • Fearing your retirement years
  • Not having a potential successor
  • Assuming that a family member will take over the business

Overcoming Roadblocks in Succession and Career Planning

An organization needs to invest the required time in performance review as a major part of succession and career planning. Lack of time is a major roadblock to succession and career planning.
Managers consider such investment of time as not being an effective use of time. However, without performance review system, employee contribution becomes impossible to measure. It is also desirable to have a suitable organizational culture to promote impartiality and integrity in designing succession and career planning in the organization.


Let us consider, XYZ Company plans to groom and develop the key elements or employees in critical position in the organization, to identify successors and fill the required gaps. For this, they divided the skill into 60-25-15 model, to check the criticality of the position and make plans to overcome the problems that arise in future. The following table shows the details of the model.

Key development (60 %)Performance & feedback (25%)Education (15%)
Job rotation360 reviewManager leadership program
New business programCoaching and trainingBusiness unit
AssignmentCareer discussionExecutive courses
Functional exposureTraining and development planning
SPF specific task forceOne to one interaction


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