Succession planning starts today

New babies in the family are a surefire way to get everyone focused on the future. While the idea of children carrying on the ‘family name’ or even the family business might seem old fashioned, or more suited to extremely popular TV series, there is no doubt that kids are a sign of the future and can be seen as a way to secure a legacy. 

Children are a natural progression of any family, so it’s always interesting that organisations don’t have the same focus on succession planning, even if it might be in a slightly different way. 

I talk to leaders regularly and when we broach the topic of succession planning, many of them tell me that it’s on their list but they never seem to get to it with their leadership team. And they’re not alone. According to an ATD report, only 35% of organisations have any kind of succession planning in place. 

Succession planning can seem like a distant conversation – one to save for when you have time – but knowing the plan for your own leadership role, as well as the roles around you, can have benefits for your team now, not just in the future. 

How to discuss succession planning

Simply put it on the agenda. Review the talent in your organisation and identify those people who are likely to be the future successors inside your organisation. Not everyone wants to take on a leadership role but those who do will show you in the way that they work each day. 

Who are the high performers? Who are the people who have identified they’d like to progress? 

Once you know these people, discuss them confidentially with your leadership team. Your and other leaders’ experiences with these team members might differ, and you can get a better understanding of them by having collaborative discussions to get the whole picture. 

Then, have these conversations on a regular basis. Teams are constantly shifting and changing as people take on new roles and new responsibilities, while others go elsewhere – talent changes, interests change and plans change. Your succession plan is not something you can sit down and discuss once. 

Succession planning has future benefits

The very nature of succession planning means it can benefit your organisation long into the future. Not having a plan can leave your organisation in turmoil when a leader vacates their role – for any reason. Succession planning secures the process to ensure that an organisation is in good hands, no matter what the future has in store. 

It doesn’t matter how big or small an organisation is, succession planning is important to ensure future success. 

Succession planning benefits your team today 

While succession planning helps you keep one eye on the future, it can also have benefits today, including: 

  • Clear developmental pathways 
  • Job security 
  • Employee engagement and retention 
  • Peace of mind 

Once you’ve identified your high performers, you can start to give them the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. For those individuals, it will give them the confirmation they need to know they’re on the right track to reach their own professional goals, valued by your leadership team and it will mean that they’re less likely to look elsewhere for the opportunities they need to progress in their career. 

This won’t go unnoticed by the rest of the team, but providing you’ve effectively identified those who want to move into leadership roles, this succession plan will give the rest of the team peace of mind and confidence that, should something happen to the current leadership – illness, new roles elsewhere, etc – the organisation is in great hands, it’s not going to be left stranded. 

Succession planning shouldn’t be something you save for the end of your time in a role. It’s something you need to start today to secure the future of your organisation. 

Want to know how you can start succession planning? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.