Succession Planning


Succession Planning

  The survival and success of the organization is heavily dependent on the skills of the people who manage the work and perform the tasks. Good succession planning focuses on more than the senior administrator, who is not always the least dispensable person in the organization. That honor may go to the computer technician without whom the organization grinds to a halt.


Some years ago, during an audit of a large business, a young accountant from a major accounting firm asked a client what kind of planning had been done for support of the Information Technology infrastructure. She produced a single sheet on paper on which she had summarized the skills needed to support the 450 computer users and all the infrastructure of the organization. For each critical responsibility, the table indicated who currently had the requisite skills -- in most cases only one person -- and it named at least two other individuals who would be trained as backup during an ambitious three-year staff development program. On his next visit the auditor requested permission to share the simple table with other clients as an exemplary model of “succession planning.” Like that IT Division, the assistive technology re-use center will need more than one person capable of doing every task. Athletic teams refer to this as "bench strength." That capability is needed not just for the possibility of vacation, illness or even resignation of a key person, but to supplement the primary staff as capacity is built. It is important to be able to serve a growing community of users. Some of those additional individuals may be volunteers.


That table has been adapted to the needs of an assistive technology re-use organization. [See the attached document.]


Using the Succession Planning Grid


1.  Identify the skills needed to support the organization – both administrative tasks and program operations. In the box, enter the names of employees (or perhaps volunteers) who possess this skill. If some boxes are blank, those areas become the highest priority for immediate identification of a resource and/or training.


2.  Is backup (more than one person or a successor) available for each critical skill? If not, identify candidates to develop those skills. Identify those candidates who need training (T).


The grid is just the beginning of succession planning.


3.  Identify sources or methods of training for each critical skill. How will depth be developed for each essential skill? In some cases, on-the-job training provided by the incumbent person may be the best solution. In others, classes or training courses may be identified. If the position requires credentials, identify a source of training that best prepares the individual to acquire the credential.


4.  Create a long-range plan for the training, giving immediate attention to the highest-priority areas. The plan may take a year or more to execute because program operations detract from employee availability and resources may limit the training the budget. Discuss the proposed plan with the entire staff in a general overview, ensuring that the staff understands the objective of developing depth in all skill areas. Cross-training should not be viewed as threatening jobs, but as building capacity for the organization. Afterward, the proposed training and expectations may be discussed with each individual. The training is likely to take away work time, but it must be regarded as an investment in the future of the organization. If the training is a required part of the job, the time spent in class must be compensated as work time. The courses and materials should be reimbursed.


5.  Recognize achievement as individuals complete the training.




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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.





File Name File Size
The file succession planning grid.doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.03 MB

Other Information

Title: Succession Planning
Module: Sustainability
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Administrator
Sub Title: How to develop backup in critical skills
Organization Source: Pass It on Center
Last Reviewed: 01-22-2009 1:38 PM