The term “succession planning” might suggest old-school royalty handing power down from one generation to the next. Still, in modern business practices, corporate succession planning is a vital step in making sure your business will flourish.

What is Succession Planning?

Succession planning means looking at your employees at every level and identifying those with leadership potential, then preparing them to step up into new roles as it becomes necessary. 

Succession planning isn’t just about making sure you have someone to replace the very top manager positions—though you’ll want to do that too.

Why is Succession Planning Important?

Make Sure Your Company Is in Good Hands

You don’t have to be retiring or replacing an employee for succession planning to matter. Sometimes it’s simply a case of having someone who can step up while your assistant manager is on vacation, or handle inquiries when your top sales associate is in a meeting. 

But if the worst does happen, you’ll benefit from having someone ready to move smoothly into place, with none of the hiring or training scramble that usually accompanies the loss of a key employee.

Hold on to Your Resources

No matter which succession planning model you choose, both employee and information retention will rise. 

Don’t let knowledge of best practices and helpful shortcuts retire out of your company. Use succession training to make sure that priceless expertise is handed off to the next person in one-on-one training and conversation.

Keep Productivity Steady

It may not be a resource, but productivity is vital for any company, whether the goods and services you handle are tangible or not. Having someone ready and trained to step up means no loss of productivity during the hiring or training process, which keeps customer satisfaction and trust high.

Retain Quality Employees

Great staff members generally know they’re great – they’re the ones who put the work in to become so. Using corporate succession planning makes sure that they know you’re paying attention to their merit and that they can expect to see their efforts rewarded. Otherwise, you risk your top performers jumping ship to move up in the ranks elsewhere.

What Are the Best Steps in the Creation of Succession Plans?

Now that you understand why succession planning is so important, you’ll need a plan in place to carry it out. Consider the following steps:

  1. Determine your company’s key roles and knowledge bases. Don’t just think about the highest positions—if your assistant manager leaves tomorrow, do you still have someone who knows the ins and outs of your processes? 
  2. Assess your employee base. Have managers spoken with their staff to determine who’s interested in advancing their role? Do you have people who are showing leadership potential or ambition? What’s the general training level? Do you need some fresh faces, or to develop the staff you already have?
  3. Once you’ve identified key roles and players, it’s time to get prepared. Find a trusted source to train your employees and develop their professional skills. This is vital, whether you’ve decided to hire new people or continue developing the ones you have. If your workers aren’t developing, they’re not improving, and you’ll soon fall behind. 
  4. Continue to check in with your employees as you move forward. Your people are the best judges of their own progress and process, and you’ll be able to make sure that they’re still engaged and committed to taking on more responsibilities as needed.

What are the different succession planning models?

It’s easy to find write-ups on the different models of succession planning, but here’s a quick summary of their advantages and disadvantages:

Mass Recruitment

Although this corporate succession planning model can be expensive, offering training to supervisors at all levels of your company ensures that anyone looking for additional expertise can gain it without needing additional involvement from higher-ups.

Specialized Recruitment

Training only a few, carefully selected people for specific leadership roles is more cost-effective, but a smaller pool of replacements also means you’re more vulnerable to those people moving on.

Outside Recruitment 

Look outside the box by looking outside your industry. Choosing candidates who have preexisting leadership skills, but aren’t involved in your area of business, can be a long-term commitment. Partnering with a cutting-edge workplace training service can cancel out this disadvantage by getting your employees quickly up to speed on the newest technologies that are changing the way businesses work.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Succession Planning Model


Several advantages have already been mentioned—making sure your company’s future is secured, maintaining productivity, and retaining employees and resources. Additionally, keeping knowledge and task expertise circulating means that there’ll always be another set of eyes to offer suggestions and point out inefficiencies.


Of course, succession planning also has its pitfalls. Focusing too much on your own employee base could lead to missing out on fresh talent, and even the effort of training a top performer, you may lose them to another company. Additionally, focusing too much on having your employee's hand skills down to each other can mean you aren’t up on the latest developments in your field. 

That’s why it’s so important to include out-of-house training in the professional development of your staff. Receiving guidance and certifications for your employees at all levels will keep them up to date, as well as keep your business competitive.

Create Leaders Within Your Company Today

At Simplilearn, our corporate training in emerging technologies is transforming our economy with valuable skills that last. Our applied learning approach drives the highest learner engagement and course completion rates.

Contact us so that our consultants will work with you to design the best training program for your employees at every level to prepare them to step up into new roles. Unlock your team’s potential today!

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