Succession Planning: Leveraging Talent and Building Skills to Prepare for Opportunity

Go Pack Go! If you follow NFL football, you most likely recognize this famous chant. As an avid Green Bay Packers fan, my heart sank when I learned my favorite #4, Brett Favre, would not be returning as GB’s starting Quarterback for the 2008 season. After all, Favre had led the Packers for 16 seasons, 11 playoff appearances, seven division titles, four NFC Championship games, two consecutive Super Bowls, and 1 championship title in Super Bowl XXXI. With #4 out of the picture, it left many a cheesehead wondering, was all hope lost? Who could possibly ever fill those shoes? At that time Aaron Rodgers was known primarily as the Green Bay ‘backup’ quarterback, at least that was his role for the first 3 years of his NFL career. No doubt Rodgers’ start in the NFL as the patient understudy of one of the greatest was a far cry from the now-storied career, he is still building today with 10 Pro Bowls, four League MVP awards, and one Super Bowl MVP award under his discount double check belt. Aaron Rodgers grew from waiting in the wings into a future NFL Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best to ever play the game as a QB. And now here we cheesheads find ourselves again, wondering if our succession planning has paid off.

This begs the question, who is waiting in your wings and how are you preparing them for greatness? Change can be scary, yet planned transitions can be smooth when there’s a succession plan in place. Let’s take a look at how leaders can effectively utilize succession planning for the benefit of an entire organization.

What is Succession Planning?

A sudden need to find a replacement for a leader can arise out of various planned or unplanned circumstances. Regardless of the reason, having pre-identified high-potential employees step into vacant leadership positions creates a smooth transition.

Conversely, not having a succession plan in place creates confusion and risks an organization’s stability with a departing leader. Succession planning is not merely finding a like-for-like replacement, it’s the procedure of training and developing future leaders from the organization’s bench strength. Developing employees for growth in their careers not only helps the organizations mitigate risks but also engages employees by demonstrating a clear career growth path, helping to elevate performance results now and in the future.

How to Create a Succession Plan?

1. Plan Proactively

The risk of a void in a leadership position can either be gradual or sudden. In the case of planned retirements, it can be easier to handle; however, not all vacancies can be planned, which makes it imperative for an organization to always be proactive in identifying and equipping potential successors.

Some key questions to consider while formulating a succession plan are:

    1. Which position, if vacated immediately, could make it difficult for our company to achieve current and future goals?
    2. Which positions being vacated could hamper the safety, security, and stability of our business?
    3. Which department has the highest number of retiring or possible attrition in the near future?

2. Identify probable candidates and inform them about your plans

Identifying positions is the first step, the next step is determining the team member that is the best fit for a successive role. Preparing more than one team member as a successor prospect for each position is ideal. In any organization, the obvious successor is the one next in line per the organizational chart, but considering multiple candidates can be helpful as well.

Letting the potential candidates know about their growth chart is always great, as it demonstrates a clear career growth path to them. While discussing the succession plan with employees, leaders can further discuss the strengths and opportunities with the candidates. This further encourages employees to continuously upgrade their missing skills.

3. Instill Professionalism through Development Efforts

Depending on the new roles and responsibilities that the succession employees have, it’s imperative to incorporate training and development, strategies for learning, and knowledge transfer for their overall development. Leadership positions generally advocate for interpersonal skills, communication skills, and other critical soft skills. When these training programs are complete, the candidate should be a good fit to achieve the future goals of the company.

4. Trial Run to Evaluate Effectiveness

Like in football, time on the field in practice will matter when the real need arises. These practice reps will make all the difference when it’s game time. Assessing readiness can be critical. One way to test this is if the manager is on leave or delegating certain tasks, you could have the candidate take on the role temporarily. The employee would gain valuable experience by stepping in during short, controlled times of opportunity. Further assessment will ascertain if the candidate needs more training and in which specific areas.

What are the Benefits of having a Succession Plan?

  • A succession plan reassures employees of advancement opportunities leading to job satisfaction and empowerment.
  • Committed management towards a succession plan ensures supervisors mentor their team members.
  • Hiring for leadership and specialized roles isn’t easy. Finding competent individuals becomes possible through succession planning.
  • Employees with prior work experience & who have already meshed with your company culture can be a better fit to take up vital roles in comparison with new hires.
  • Succession planning helps in building a strong leadership bench.

Etech’s Succession Planning Framework

To ensure the successful and smooth implementation of a succession plan, Etech has a set framework to go about the process and has identified the leadership roles that will be vacant in the coming years. Both Human Resources and the Leadership team identify the qualifications, skills, characteristics, and traits necessary for each key position. To create a succession plan, leaders engage in strategic thinking with the HR team to answer critical questions about leadership roles, time frames, position responsibilities, potential candidates, and actions required to equip and prepare candidates.

The Action Plan

An action plan includes completing development plans for everyone on the team and outlining key roles in the department.

The 9-Box Grid Evaluation and Succession Readiness document

With the 9-Box grid evaluation exercise, employees are mapped on two aspects, current performance, and future potential. The performance and potential parameters are measured and through that, both an employee’s performance and potential are mapped. This study helps in determining the readiness of the employee to get promoted to the next level and the areas with opportunities that need attention.

Once the 9-box evaluations are completed, the learning & development team reviews the Succession Readiness Document and identifies training opportunities for the successive leaders. Leaders are then coached through ongoing leadership development programs.

The 9-Box Grid Evaluation and Succession Readiness document


Succession planning is an essential process for organizations to mitigate risks, maintain stability, and ensure a smooth transition in the event of a leadership void. A well-crafted succession plan not only prepares high-potential employees for leadership roles but also engages them by providing clear career growth paths.

Etech’s Succession Planning framework is an excellent example of a structured approach to creating a succession plan and it has helped Etech in creating remarkable leadership bench strength.

Come Join Etech and become part of a remarkable team that thoughtfully prepares you to be equipped for growth through a successful succession planning program!

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