SIMPLE Succession Planning Guide : A Framework for Business Succession Planning

The loss of core talent can have a critical effect on an organization. With our expertise in leadership assessments, we have combined our knowledge and industry skills to develop a strategic and simple to use succession planning guide for your organization. SIGMA’s guide to succession planning has been designed to develop a straightforward process that identifies internal succession candidates to replenish existing talent when it exits the organization through SIGMA’s 6-stage succession cycle to:

  1. identify critical positions within the organization
  2. build leader success profiles
  3. nominate high potential talent as succession candidates
  4. assess talent development needs
  5. develop internal talent
  6. measure your organization’s progress

The succession planning  guide provides templates to assist you through each stage of succession planning.

What’s Included in the SIMPLE Succession Planning Guide?

SIGMA’s Simple Succession Template Guide along with our SIMPLE Succession Planning Webinar leads organizations through our Simple Succession Planning Process with useful templates that address each stage of our Succession Planning Process including:


1. Identifying Critical Leadership Roles Within Your Organization

It is important to take a measured approach when introducing Succession Planning into an organization for the first time. The first step is to identify which key positions your organization should target based on urgency and how critical the role is to the business.


2. Building Success Profiles

We define the talent composition required for success by incorporating present and future needs to provide the target that we’ll aim for when selecting succession candidates and developing future leaders.


3. Nominating Successors

A formal process adds much-needed credibility and transparency to combat perceptions of favoritism. Results from the nomination survey are used to populate a draft Succession Bench that groups successors based on their readiness and provides an ‘eye-test’ 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 Succession Plan.


4. Assessing Succession Candidates Development Needs

There is an opportunity to add objectivity through scientifically validated leadership assessments. The assessments do not take the place of the candidate’s history and experience, but add a unique perspective at an incredible level of depth. It is important to incorporate an objective assessment to measure the talent profile of each succession candidate and to identify gaps that can be targeted through talent development.


5. Developing Talent

You now need to follow up on the assessment phase by creating a talent development plan that will help potential successors fill in the gaps in their skills and experience, and progress into readiness for their future roles.  Individual talent development plans are managed for each succession candidate, and recommended and completed development activities are tracked. At a minimum, create an individual talent development plan for all your high-potential succession candidates.


6. Measuring Success

Tracking measurable progress indicators and regularly sharing the results with key stakeholders demonstrates the value of your succession plan and
keeps its importance top of mind. If you set and communicate reasonable
expectations from the beginning, in time you’ll be able to show year-over-year progress. Set a calendar reminder to review, compare, and
communicate progress every six months. Even if you only track one metric, get in the habit of recording it, attaching a dollar value if possible, and
conveying that to your stakeholders.

Succession Planning Checklist


  • Executive Support
  • Process
  • Communication
  • Documentation
  • Accountability
  • The Long Game


Is your Succession Plan Set Up for Success?

Executive Support

  • Is your Succession Planning initiative supported by your CEO? 
  • Is Succession supported by the entire leadership team?


  •  Is your Succession Plan formally documented? 
  • Does the leadership team review the Succession Plan (at least) annually? 
  • Is your Succession Plan updated (at least) annually? 

Does your Succession Plan include: 

  • …detailed Success Profiles for each leadership role? 
  • …populated Succession Benches for each leadership profile? 
  • …Successor Profiles for each Succession Candidate? 
  • Development plans for each Succession Candidate? 
  • …Documented metrics to gauge the success of your plan? 


  • Do you use a proven Succession Process? 
  • Is that process easy to understand? 
  • Are you confident in your ability to explain the process at all levels of the organization? 


  • Does your plan include detailed timelines and deliverables? 
  • Do you have a process in place to hold participants accountable? 
  • Do you have a scheduled annual review that includes your entire leadership team?


Are you constantly communicating the plan to…? 

  • The board (if applicable) 
  • Management 
  • Individual Succession Candidates 
  • All members of the organization 
  • Do you have formal conversations with leadership on their plans for retirement? 
  • Are leaders prepared to have candid discussions with their team regarding each candidate’s readiness? 
  • Do leaders have the right tools to support development discussions with their successors? 

The Long Game

  • Is the Succession Plan aligned with the organization’s long-term Strategic Plan? 
  • Is there a plan in place for multiple levels of the organization (ie., not just the CEO)? 
  • Are recruitment, hiring, and talent development aligned with your Succession Plan? 
  • Are Succession Profiles built with the future in mind? 
  • Are you focused on developing pools of talent for each role vs. identifying one successor? 

Start Your Succession Planning with Our Succession Planning Guide & Templates

Begin working towards an internal succession plan for your organization or business using SIGMA’s succession planning guide. Download the free guide today and start planning for the future to ensure your organizations leadership is positioned for success. To get more from this succession planning guide, watch our complimentary SIMPLE Succession Planning Webinar.

Contact us to learn more about how our Succession Planning Launch Series  delivers a CUSTOM SUCCESSION PLAN in 30 DAYS while requiring less than 8 hours (2 half-day sessions) from your leadership team.