Set Up Your Successor for Success“The hallmark of a great leader is one who sets his or her successors up for success, rather than failure.”

The key to successful succession planning is to establish systems that make it possible for the organization to go on when a key individual leaves.  And that goes for all key staff — the CEO, and any other critical positions.

Steps to Building a Succession Plan

Step 1 Identify Critical Positions

Begin your plan by identifying all of the critical positions within your department or team.  These could be currently filled position, currently vacant positions, or positions you would like to add.

Step 2 Color Code Critical Positions

If the position will be vacant within 1 year or the wrong person is in the position, color code the position red.  If the position will be vacant within 2 years, color code it yellow.  If the position is safe for 2 years, color code it green.  Add explanatory notes to all red and yellow positions (e.g., promoting, retiring, resigning, etc.).  Identify any new or proposed positions in blue.

Step 3 Identify Potential Successor

Identify any potential successors whether they are inside or outside the organization, providing name, current title or position, and proposed title or position.  Potential successors will be ranked green if currently qualified for the position, yellow if they could be qualified in 1 year, and red if they could be qualified in 2 or more years.

Step 4 Create a Development Plan

Help each of the candidates create a development plan that would prepare them for the desired position, within the time required.  The key is to make every open position a leadership development opportunity.

Step 5 Review You Plan

The succession plan should be reviewed or updated at least once a year, or whenever there is a change in any critical position.

“We go through life together and if we can help each other, that’s a good thing.  I don’t like the word mentor.  I like to think of it as a friendship.  It’s a two-way street, and we learn from each other.”  Bill George