Click here to learn how SIGMA’s Succession Planning Launch delivers a customized succession plan in 6-8 weeks.

Free Self-Guided Succession Planning Training

Succession planning is a necessary strategic leadership development process for organizations of all industries and sizes. However, many organizations operate without a strategic plan for their future. Succession planning is often delayed, not because organizations don’t understand the importance, but because they don’t know where to begin. To help make succession planning more approachable, SIGMA has developed a free online, self-guided succession planning training. This course takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete and can be completed at any time

Throughout the five modules listed below, training participants will learn how to leverage SIGMA’s six-step succession planning process. Each module includes all of the tools and templates required to begin drafting a customized succession plan immediately.

If you have questions about the training material or would like to discuss what succession planning looks like at your organization, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our succession consultants would be happy to speak with you.

Succession Planning Training Modules

Identify Critical Roles

Approximate Time to Complete: 15 minutes

Welcome to SIGMA’s Succession Planning Training. Module 1 introduces the succession planning process and its importance to organizational strategy. This introductory module provides the foundational knowledge that serves as the basis for learning how to develop and implement a strong succession planning process in modules 2-5.

Additional Resources:

Succession Planning vs. Replacement Hiring A Good Succession Plan Saves Money

Build Success Profiles

Approximate Time to Complete: 15 minutes

It is crucial for organizations to have a succession planning process, because the process provides a necessary framework to promote efficient, consistent, and effective implementation. In Module 2, you will learn SIGMA’s six-stage succession planning process. This process is a structured approach to succession planning that is easy to replicate and allows leaders to scale their own succession plan across the entire organization.

Additional Resources:

Succession Planning Process Outline (1-Pager) Succession Planning for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Nominate Succession Candidates

Approximate Time to Complete: 10 minutes

Once familiarized with SIGMA’s six-step succession planning process, it’s time to draft your own succession plan. In Module 3, we provide you with form-fillable templates and other resources to help you create a succession plan that fits the unique context of your own organization and follows the six steps of the process.

Step 1: Identify Critical Roles

The essential first step in SIGMA’s succession planning process is to identify critical roles. To identify critical roles, use our Critical Roles Identification Questionnaire. This tool will help you organize key positions and prioritize succession planning based on how important each role is to your organization, and how urgent the need for succession planning is. Begin with your own team, then scale this exercise to multiple teams and levels of the organization.

Step 2: Build Success Profiles

After you’ve identified your organization’s critical roles, the next stage is to draft success profiles. Success profiles are templates for the skills and abilities needed to succeed in a particular position. Use SIGMA’s Success Profile™ Template to outline success profiles for each critical role in your organization, and explore SIGMA’s LeaderBase if you are interested in accessing ready-made Success Profiles™ for common leadership roles.

Step 3: Nominate Successors

Once a success profile has been built for each critical role, you are ready to nominate successors. Begin this process by using the Succession Candidate Nomination Survey to help your succession planning team evaluate the potential of each candidate.

Results from the nomination survey are used to populate a draft Succession Bench that groups successors based on their readiness and provides an “at-a-glance” measure of bench strength for the incumbent’s role. A well-maintained Succession Bench is also a great way to measure the success of your overall succession plan.

Step 4: Assess Talent

Before you can begin the development process, you will need to assess each succession candidate’s development needs. To do this, fill out the Candidate Profile Template. Use a validated assessment like the LSP-R to evaluate the succession candidates on qualities required for the target role. List notable gaps between current candidate skills and those required for the target position in each category, then use this worksheet to identify priorities for candidate growth and talent development opportunities.

Step 5: Develop Talent

After assessing development needs, you can begin the talent development process. To help structure this process, we’ve created a Development Actions Form that identifies gaps in talent and allows you to monitor the development progress of succession candidates. Each of your potential successors should have their own Development Actions Form that is reviewed annually to help build their readiness for future roles.

Step 6: Measure Success

Use the Talent Progress Scorecard to review the outcomes of your succession program across a variety of indicators, including money saved, delays prevented, and improvements to existing HR processes. These indicators will help you communicate success to senior leadership, succession candidates, and the organization as a whole.

high potential talent development

Develop Talent

Approximate Time to Complete: 15 minutes

With a draft succession plan now completed, you’re ready to learn how to implement the plan in your own organization.

When it comes to succession planning, a successful implementation is dependent on clear communication. Significant strategic processes like succession planning need to be communicated to the right people in the right order. Module 4 guides you through the necessary steps needed to effectively communicate the succession plan and secure buy-in from senior leadership. To do this, you need to:

  1. Create a Succession Advisory Team (SAT).
  2. Share the plan with leaders across the organization.
  3. Inform candidates of their role in the process.

The following article will guide you through each of these steps and provide you with helpful resources to effectively communicate and implement your succession plan.

Note: When it comes to implementation, SIGMA has observed that developing talent can be the most difficult and time-consuming step of the succession planning process. To help you set reasonable goals, our consultants offer valuable insights in Succession Planning and Progress Expectations.

Additional Resources:

How to Align Your Succession Plan with Your Strategic Plan Developing a Succession Plan that Supports Diversity in the Workplace

Measure Progress

Approximate Time to Complete: 5 minutes

Once the succession plan has been implemented, the final step is to manage the transition between incumbent and successor. To prepare for a smooth transition, read SIGMA’s blog on Managing Succession Transitions. In this blog, you will learn about knowledge transfer and receive a guide that can be used to help your organization build an effective knowledge transfer process.

When the time for transition arises, download SIGMA’s 30 60 90 Day Plan and work with your succession candidate to fill out the template. Ask them to cast a five-year vision, outline their learning goals, and create an action plan with clear metrics for success. This template was designed to prepare new incumbents effectively and ensure a positive trajectory for their time in the critical role.

Final Succession Planning Training Quiz

You have now completed all five modules of SIGMA’s Succession Planning Training. To ensure you have achieved the learning objectives outlined in the syllabus, our consultants have created an optional final quiz that should take about 10 minutes to complete. This quiz is designed to assess your comprehension and confirm that you have understood and retained the material. As there is no certification or designation for completing the training, a passing grade is not a requirement of training completion.


Now that you have completed the five modules and the comprehension quiz, you have finished SIGMA’s Succession Planning Training. Feel free to revisit these modules at your convenience for a refresher or to work on areas of development identified by the results of the quiz.

If you would like more tools to guide your succession planning process, explore SIGMA’s Succession Planning Template Library. For answers to frequently asked questions, watch our Succession Planning Webinar: Q&A with the Consultants. If you would like to speak with a consultant about anything you learned in this training, or about what succession planning looks like at your organization, send us an email or give us a call. We would love to speak with you.

All the best on your succession planning journey,

Your team at SIGMA.

Looking for More? Talk to Glen




Would you like to know more about SIGMA’s succession planning services? Contact Glen Harrison, an organizational transformation consultant and succession planning expert. Over the course of his career, Glen has worked with one-third of the Fortune 500 list and with every level of government in Canada and the United States. Having worked with numerous clients to build robust succession plans from the ground up, Glen has extensive experience in the application of SIGMA’s products and services to help organizations realize their people potential.

Ready to Start Succession Planning?

SIGMA’s Succession Planning Launch is a great place to begin. In just two sessions, we will work with your leadership team to build a succinct succession plan that meets the needs of your organization.