10 Examples of Succession Planning Practices in the Workplace

CoffeePals Team
CoffeePals Team
April 12, 2024
10 Examples of Succession Planning Practices in the Workplace

Succession planning does not just help organizations identify and nurture the next generation of leaders. From grooming internal talent to strategic leadership pipelines, it ensures that the organization has a future to look forward to.

A Deloitte study showed that 86% of leaders believe that succession planning is critical. However, only 14% of those leaders believe their organization is doing it effectively.

This is a huge problem, knowing that organizations could potentially lose around 60% of their revenue due to poor succession planning.

In this article, we’ll dive into what succession planning is, why every organization needs to put this on the priority list, and what the most common examples of succession planning are that you can start putting into place.


86% of leaders believe that succession planning is critical. However, only 14% of those leaders believe their organization is doing it effectively.

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a strategic process that helps organizations identify and develop individuals within their ranks to assume key roles and responsibilities in the future. Its primary goal is to ensure a smooth transition of leadership and critical positions, minimizing disruptions and maintaining continuity in business operations.

This proactive approach involves identifying high-potential employees, assessing their skills and competencies, and providing them with the necessary training and development opportunities. It goes beyond filling immediate vacancies; it aims to build a robust talent pipeline that aligns with the organization's long-term goals.

There are four critical steps in succession planning:

  1. Identification: Recognizing key positions critical to the organization's success.
  2. Assessment: Evaluating current employees for their potential to fill future roles.
  3. Development: Providing targeted training, mentorship, and experiences to prepare successors.
  4. Monitoring and Adjustment: Regularly reviewing and adjusting plans based on performance and organizational changes.

Succession planning is a dynamic and evolving process that requires ongoing commitment and adaptability. Organizations that invest in effective succession planning are better positioned to navigate leadership changes and secure a resilient future.

What are the Benefits of Succession Planning?

Succession planning is typically a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders within an organization. Communication and alignment between HR, leadership, and other relevant parties are key to the success of succession planning initiatives.

While it might seem like a tedious process to some, there are many good reasons why it needs to be done. Here are a few key benefits of succession planning:

  • Continuity of leadership: Ensures a seamless leadership transition by identifying and preparing successors for key positions, minimizing disruptions during leadership changes.
  • Reduced recruitment costs: Internal promotions resulting from succession planning can reduce the need for external hires. This leads to cost savings associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training.
  • Knowledge transfer: Facilitates the transfer of critical knowledge and skills from experienced employees to their successors through mentorship and training programs, preventing knowledge gaps.
  • Strategic alignment: Aligns leadership development with the organization's strategic goals. Succession planning ensures that future leaders possess the skills and competencies to drive the company forward.
  • Reduced time to fill critical roles: With a pool of ready-to-go successors, organizations can quickly fill key positions, reducing the time it takes to respond to unexpected departures or sudden workforce needs.
  • Crisis management and risk mitigation: Emergency succession plans mitigate the risks of sudden leadership changes or crises. A plan ensures that the organization can respond quickly and effectively.
  • Increased productivity: Employees aware of growth opportunities and have clear career paths tend to be more motivated and engaged, leading to increased productivity and higher levels of job satisfaction.

With these benefits, organizations can position themselves for long-term success, cultivating a culture of continuous development and readiness for the future.

succession planning examples

What are Examples of Effective Succession Planning Practices in the Workplace?

Succession planning strategies can take various forms depending on the organization's goals, industry, and structure. In fact, many of your current programs and practices are in place to safeguard the organization’s future, making them part of your succession planning efforts.

Here are some common examples of succession planning practices in the workplace:

1. Leadership development programs

Leadership development programs help cultivate the skills, competencies, and strategic thinking necessary for leadership roles. By investing in leadership development, organizations create a pipeline of talent that can seamlessly transition into key positions when needed.

Through assessments, mentorship, and targeted training, leadership development programs help pinpoint employees with the aptitude and ambition for leadership roles. This proactive identification ensures that the organization knows its talent pool and can strategically groom individuals for future responsibilities.

2. Skill and competency mapping

Skill and competency mapping involves creating a comprehensive inventory of the competencies essential for success in various positions and aligning them with organizational goals. The process clearly defines the skills needed, serving as a guide in identifying and developing potential successors.

The mapping process also facilitates targeted development initiatives. Organizations can design training programs, mentorship, and experiential opportunities that address identified skill gaps in potential successors.

3. Cross-training and job rotation

Cross-training and job rotation contribute to developing a versatile and adaptable workforce.

Cross-training involves employees gaining exposure to different roles and functions within the organization, while job rotation entails the periodic movement of employees across various positions. These practices ensure that potential successors acquire a breadth of skills and experiences, making them well-rounded and capable of handling diverse responsibilities.

4. Mentorship and coaching programs

Mentorship and coaching programs are integral to succession planning as they transfer knowledge, skills, and insights from experienced leaders to potential successors. These programs create a structured framework for guidance, fostering the development of leadership qualities and competencies in emerging talents.

Mentorship provides a platform for one-on-one guidance, allowing mentees to benefit from the wisdom and experience of seasoned leaders. This personalized approach helps potential successors develop the soft skills and strategic thinking required for leadership roles, enhancing their readiness to step into higher positions.

Meanwhile, coaching programs offer targeted support for skill development and goal attainment. Coaches work with individuals to identify areas for improvement, set specific objectives, and provide ongoing feedback. By addressing performance gaps and aligning development goals with organizational needs, coaching programs contribute to the effective preparation of individuals within the succession pipeline.

5. Employee development plans

Employee development plans play a crucial role in succession planning by providing a structured framework for identifying, nurturing, and advancing the skills of potential successors within an organization.

These plans are tailored to individual employees, outlining specific goals, training, and experiences necessary for career growth and progression.

succession planning meeting

6. Feedback processes

Feedback processes are instrumental in succession planning as they provide a structured mechanism for assessing an individual's performance, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, and aligning development with organizational goals. Regular feedback helps continuously evaluate potential successors, ensuring they are on track for leadership roles.

Feedback processes contribute to the ongoing refinement of development plans. By receiving regular input from supervisors, mentors, and peers, individuals within the succession pipeline can adapt their development goals and strategies.

7. Emergency succession plans

Organizations should prepare for unforeseen circumstances by having emergency succession plans in place. This ensures that the organization can respond quickly and effectively to unexpected departures or changes in leadership.

By identifying interim leaders and key responsibilities in advance, organizations can minimize disruptions and maintain operational continuity during times of crisis. This also contributes to organizational resilience by preventing talent vacuums.

8. Performance management

Performance management provides a systematic and data-driven approach to assess employees' capabilities, potential, and development needs. By evaluating individual and team performance, organizations can identify high-potential individuals and tailor development plans to prepare them for future leadership roles.

Performance management also facilitates targeted development efforts. Feedback and performance reviews provide insights into employees' strengths and areas for improvement, enabling organizations to design personalized development plans.

Here’s a comprehensive guide you can read to find out more about effective performance management strategies: What Is Performance Management? The Complete Guide

9. Knowledge management

Knowledge management plays a crucial role in succession planning by ensuring an organization's effective transfer and retention of institutional knowledge. As experienced leaders retire or transition, capturing and preserving their expertise becomes essential for a smooth succession process.

Knowledge management systems facilitate the storage, organization, and accessibility of critical information, enabling seamless transitions and reducing the impact of key person dependencies. 

To better understand the role of knowledge management in the workplace, read this guide: What is knowledge management?

10. Internal job postings and promotions

Encouraging internal candidates to apply for open positions before considering external hire supports the growth of existing talent and reinforces a culture of internal career progression. It creates a transparent and merit-based system, allowing talented individuals to progress along their career paths and aligning their development with the organization's strategic needs.

This approach aligns individual aspirations with organizational goals, ensuring that the organization has a pool of well-prepared individuals ready to assume leadership roles when the need arises.

Effective Communication for Effective Succession Planning

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful succession planning, playing a vital role at various stages of the process. It ensures that employees are aware of the processes, criteria, and expectations, creating a culture of awareness and engagement and encouraging employees to actively participate in their own career development.

Communicating personalized development plans to potential successors is crucial. This involves discussing specific training opportunities, mentorship programs, and experiential learning that will prepare individuals for leadership roles. This calls for effective communication channels.

One-on-one check-in sessions are helpful, especially in carving a career path for potential future leaders. But this doesn’t mean that all conversations should happen in the boardroom. Casual conversations are just as important as it creates a relaxed environment where team members can be more open about their future plans.

Virtual coffee chats through platforms like CoffeePals are excellent venues for these conversations. These virtual conversations encourage a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their goals and managers can provide guidance, aligning individual aspirations with organizational succession needs.

Add CoffeePals to Microsoft Teams now and start having conversations about your team members’ futures.


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