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What’s The Plan?

What’s the plan?

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key leadership positions in the company. It increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. Essentially, succession planning is the act of filling your leadership pipeline.

For small business owners, a succession plan is also like an exit strategy-a guide to who will take over the business and how once you decide to retire or sell.


So what? Why do I need a Succession Plan?

Consider what can happen if a succession plan is not in place. When a key leader leaves, the company must find a way to replace those technical skills and other position- specific knowledge and abilities. Exiting key leaders take with them their organizational knowledge and the insight required to navigate company politics. Depending on the role this person played, he/she may also take with them strong relationships with customers, vendors and other key players in the company.

Not to mention the loss of productivity when a new leader comes in and has to take the time to learn on the job and may make some mistakes in the learning process.

Conversely, a well-executed succession plan identifies high potential team members early and gives them the opportunity to grow into key leadership roles through training and mentoring. When a leadership position opens up, there is a pool of talented, trained people with the technical knowledge, the organizational insight and relationships to fill that role. As a result, transitions are seamless, productivity continues, teams are comfortable and the engine of company success continues.


How do I do it?

Step 1:

Understand what the long term goals for the business are. If you are the owner of a small business, consider your options for when you retire or if unforeseen circumstances present themselves. Who will fulfill that leadership role and what kind of training does that person need?

For larger organizations, take a look at the company’s vision. What mechanisms are in place to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders will continue the company’s success and strive to reach that vision?

Review your strategic and business plans. What areas need further developing? Is the company projecting growth? Will more middle and senior leadership positions be available in the next 3-5 years? Your business and strategic plans will tell you what need in your succession plan.

Step 2:

Identify high potential team members. There are several templates available online to help you accomplish this. The 9-box grid is a straight forward approach to evaluate a team member’s current level of contribution as well as their potential. Understand what the high potential team member really excels at and what their growth goals are. Aligning personal goals to organizational goals is a win/win.

Once you’ve identified your high potential team members-tell them about it! Knowing that they’re valued, recognized and are candidates for development goes a long way in performance and retention.

Step 3:

Create a track or a personalized professional development plan with the high performance team members. Plans should include technical training as well as a leadership development component. The addition of a coach or mentor enriches the development experiences, gives the high potential team member a chance to engage hand on in projects and exposes them to the organizational knowledge that the mentor/coach possesses.

Step 4:

A plan is only as good as its execution. The personalized professional development plans should be reviewed periodically by the appropriate manager or Human Resources representative to ensure that the high potential team member is completing the required training, coaching and hands on experience needed. Check in with the coach /mentor as well so they have the support they need.

As the plan is executed, the team member will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill leadership positions as they become available!


Remember that we at Pathfinder Strategies offer services to help you! We gladly take the hard work out succession planning for you! Contact us at or by phone at (888) 529-0240.

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