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How to Create an Effective Succession Planning Process


By Mike Jacoutot, Managing Partner

According to executive search firm Korn Ferry, only 35% of companies have a succession plan. Like training, succession planning is not an event, but rather a continuous improvement process that should provide for the continuity of business over time, personnel change and absence.

Does your company have an effective succession plan?

If not or if you have one and it has been marginally successful, we would like to share our experience with you. If a company is only as good as the people who represent it, it stands to reason that effective succession planning is a key to future growth! Speaking from years of executive experience, here is our framework for succession planning:

Strategic Plan Review. Update the current strategic plan including strategic initiatives and priorities. Link Succession Planning to the vision, values, and strategy of the business. People plans should support the business strategy, especially the key differentiators that provide a sustainable competitive advantage.

Define Leadership Criteria: We typically looked at six areas when measuring our talent. Those areas include:

  • Performance. Performance is the yardstick of measurement. Do they deliver the results year after year? Or are they up one year and down the next. Is their performance measurable?

  • Core Values. Do they get the results leveraging the right values? I have seen too many people get moved up solely on results. This is a mistake. How you get the results is just as important as getting them.

  • Overall Leadership Capability. Leaders are both teachers and learners. Have they demonstrated a continuous learning mindset? Do they take the time to invest in the development of their people? Are they strong teachers/coaches?

  • Diagnostic/Analytical Capability. Do they have the ability to identify challenges and problem areas and effectively put together a plan to fix it? What do they do when adversity strikes?

  • Technology Savvy. Now, we’re not looking for “propeller heads” here. We are looking for people who embrace technology and are current with emerging technologies.

  • Relationship: Different strokes for different folks. We look for leaders who can adjust their style to the developmental needs of their employees. Do they manage everyone the same or can they be directive with some and lead from behind with others? Are they a hammer and everyone looks like a nail?

Complete a Talent Inventory. Identify and appraise key-position candidates and high-potential areas in terms of the criteria highlighted above and potential for advancement. This will determine your overall “bench” strength.

Complete a Talent Needs Forecast. Estimate the number and kinds of talent needed to fill roles in a defined time frame. Include: outlines of the performance challenges, capabilities, and selection criteria for key positions and high-impact roles.


Complete a Talent Review. Pull the executive management team together at least twice a year to review, discuss, and document key position plans and development plans for key individuals and talent pools.

At Butler Street, we are firm believers that utilizing an experienced third party to provide the structure and manage the sometimes highly emotional process of succession planning is a must. Having successfully completed succession plans across four industries, we would be happy to share our experience with you. Just click on the CONTACT button and let’s start the conversation.

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