Getting Buy-In From Management to Begin the Succession Planning Process

Many leaders understand the importance of succession planning to the long-term success of their organization, but most companies do not have a solid succession plan. Consequently, it can be difficult to convince a senior management team to focus their time and resources toward succession planning. SIGMA’s Succession Planning process is designed to help organizations identify and develop internal high potentials to replenish existing talent when it exits the organization. The following workbook will provide you with the information you need to get buy-in from your management team for succession planning.

Get Senior Management Buy-in with the Succession Planning Workbook


A proven Succession Planning process provides a roadmap for success. This structure ensures consistency across the company, aides in the communication of the plan across all levels of the organization, and provides the ingredients for success.

It is estimated that 70% of succession planning initiatives fail within two years because they lose support from senior leadership. This is why it is essential that your first step in developing a succession plan be to build a strong business case for its importance. This should be personalized to both your industry and your organization to be as relevant and compelling as possible.

This Succession Planning Workbook will walk you through a series of exercises to help build your case for succession planning.

After completing this workbook you will be able to identify:

  • why succession planning is important
  • what your organization’s current succession process entails
  • how your current process compares to expert recommendations
  • which areas in your organization are particularly vulnerable to sudden departures
  • the depth of your current talent pool
  • next steps in the succession planning process

Set Your Organization Up for Success

To get the most from succession planning, you need the following:

  1. complete support from the CEO
  2. alignment with strategic planning
  3. a systematic approach to identify and develop future leaders
  4. transparent communication
  5. to incorporate objectivity, accountability, and measurement
  6. a simple process that is customized to your organization’s unique needs

Use the Succession Planning Workbook to Gain Buy-in from Your Management Team

Use this workbook to sell succession planning to your senior leadership team. With the help of our simple templates, consider:

  • Why succession planning is important to your organization
  • Your current succession planning process
  • The structure of your company
  • The strength of your current candidates

Why is Succession Planning Important for Your Organization?

Succession planning allows your company to plan for the future and ensure business continuity, despite potential personnel changes. Succession planning will benefit your organization multiple ways including:

  • retaining organization-specific knowledge
  • motivating employees to grow their skills with opportunities for development or promotion
  • preventing high recruitment costs and associated delays

The bottom line is that all organizations face turnover, and preparing for this inevitability will protect your organization and help train your next generation of leaders today.

Reviewing Your Current Succession Planning Process

When using the Succession Planning Process Worksheet to review your current succession process, write your answers to the following question under the current succession process column, leaving the recommendations column blank.

  • who is involved?
  • what are the selection criteria?
  • how formalized is the succession program?
  • how transparent is the succession program?
  • how is the program perceived in the organization?
  • how is the succession process communicated?
Review your current succession planning process

Next, complete the ‘Is Your Succession Plan Set Up for Success?’ checklist to assess the maturity of your current succession planning process and what areas need to be improved.

The Structure of Your Company

To get a better sense of those roles that should be a priority for your succession plan, fill in the at-a-glance organizational chart. Place the CEO at the top of the chart and add direct and indirect reports below the CEO. For each individual, fill ou the chart based on their:

  • readiness to move into the CEO position in the next 3 years
  • plans to remain with the organization for at least the next 5 years
  • availability of replacements for their current role

Take a moment to evaluate your completed organizational chart. Any role with unchecked boxes should be considered for succession planning. Roles with more than one empty box, or where several blank boxes appear together in a department should be flagged as high priority.

Determining the Strength of Your Succession Bench

The purpose of the succession bench is to evaluate the depth of your talent pool by tracking the readiness of succession candidates for critical roles.

First, identify your most critical role for succession planning and indicate the incumbent and urgency for this position. List all your potential succession candidates for this role according to three levels:

  • Level A: candidates ready for role in less than 3 years
  • Level B: individuals ready for role in 3 to 5 years
  • Level C: potentials ready for role in more than 5 years

Use the organization demographic columns to track succession candidates’ intermediate growth through the organization via positions that move the individual closer to readiness for the critical position. Record the candidates progress toward succession position with time at each level.

The Nominate Succession Candidates worksheet will help you track the overall strength of your talent pool, as well as each succession candidate’s progress over time. Ask yourself, how strong is the succession bench? Is there a formal plan to strengthen the bench? How frequent is the movement between levels?

Next Steps for Your Organization

Now that you’ve had an opportunity to evaluate your organization’s succession process and succession bench strength take some time to review your organizational chart for dependencies or areas of concern. Identify any areas of high need, for example:

  • roles where the incumbent is eligible or likely to retire
  • positions that experience high rates of turnover
  • individuals that possess knowledge that is needed but not widely known

Consider the skills needed for success in these high-need roles. Do you have anyone that already has these skills? If a skilled person is promoted, who will fill their role? Review SIGMA’s Succession Process Recommendations and identify any gaps in your current succession plan.

•	Getting Buy- In From Your Management Team

For form fill-able versions of these worksheets, visit our Succession Planning template library.

Once you’ve gained buy-in from your senior management team, check out our helpful Succession Planning checklist to assess the maturity of your current succession planning process. Next, try our At-A-Glance Succession Bench activity to get a quick sense of how well your company has succession planning for critical roles.

Finally, download our Succession Planning Guide to help your company design their own custom succession plan.

Feel free to contact us to learn how SIGMA can deliver a custom Succession Plan to your company in just 30 days with our Succession Planning Launch Series Workshops.

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