Succession Planning – What is it?

Succession Planning is a process used by Employers to engage their Team Members in Learning and Development activities in order to enable and encourage progression within the Organisation. The process involves a number of different activities or exercises, which ultimately aim to identify key Strengths and Attributes of its team members and to develop areas needed to progress to the next stage in their career.

What are the benefits?

Succession planning enables organisations to mold their own future leaders and to progress a person through their professional development in line with the needs and values of the company.

In addition, Succession planning assists in the retention of key team members and ultimately set a business up with suitable replacements for Senior Managers who may be exiting the business.

How Can Succession and Succession Planning be achieved?

To start your succession plan, you need to;

  1. Identify the key positions which need to be, or will need to be filled.
  2. Construct success profiles for the role and the candidates required – what are the needs?
  3. Assess team members – who is best suited to match the success profile of the role?
  4. Create development plans – when you have chose a candidate, look at what development needs they have.
  5. Develop successors – equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools to step up into their new role.
  6. Handover – the successor steps into their new role and commences work.
  7. Assess and Review – as with any new role, assess performance, but remember – the new candidate and the old candidate will not be the same, this does not mean failure, allow for new approachs, innovation and processes.

Development Plans

This can be the biggest challenge!

You can review the needs of the role, and the needs of the candidate. But how do you ensure that the candidate satisfies the role while remaining satisfied themselves?

The most common and effective ways to develop a candidate are through:

  • Natural Progression
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching
  • Training
Natural Progression

Inevitably, there will be an element of natural progression for all candidates in any role that they are in. With on-the-job experience and exposure to different scenarios and situations, a candidate will gain more realistic knowledge and experience of the role and their job. However, oftentimes it might be discovered that some candidates excel in their current role, whereas some may be more suited to another role. This is something to review when considering succession plans. It’s important to look at the candidates’ suitability to the role you are filling, rather than the role they are currently in. It may be a point of natural progression for the person.


Mentoring can be a very good way to achieve a strong outcome when you base your choice on the person’s overall skills and suitability, rather than allowing their current role to determine their success.  Mentoring is a brilliant activity and process that allows companies to maintain some of the intellectual capital that former senior team members would have possessed. This is achieved through the passing of real-world knowledge to their successors. Mentoring can also assist with motivating the wider team within the organisation, as the activity is viewed as an investment in development for team members, as they feel more valued.


Coaching is an extremely effective tool that feeds into succession planning, professional development, and progression. Coaching can help to achieve a highly motivated workforce, through increased engagement, dedication, and commitment. Coaching activities also help to create positive, healthy working relationships, and competitive advantage. This process helps team members to identify their own key strengths and weaknesses. And it also help them learn about how they might work on making changes and improvements. We have a full blog on Coaching, which you might find useful.


Training is the most widely used form of progression within organisations. However, oftentimes training is reserved only for compliance purposes in order to meet legal/ insurance requirements. When it comes to succession planning, use your success profiles paired with your team members’ capabilities and interests. This will enable you to review options for specific training, which can offer more benefits than just ensuring compliance. The range of training courses available to team members is extremely broad, especially in recent months as online access has become more widely utilized and available. Yes, training can be expensive depending on the nature of the course. But, rather than viewing this as a current expense, take the view that this is a capital expenditure, an investment. The benefits will come back to you through the team members’ increased knowledge and skills, and you will also have a more highly engaged and motivated workforce as a result!

If succession planning is something that you may be interested in for your business, this is something that we would be delighted to assist you with, just reach out and let us know!

This blog was brought to you by Aoife Hanlon, HR Executive with Corporate HR Ireland. Aoife can be reached by Email:

Sign up for our newsletter if you’d like to hear more from us.

Leave a Reply