Executive Coaching 101: How To Create a Successful Executive Succession Plan

What is succession planning? Discover the benefits of executive succession planning and how Más Talent can help create succession plans for any business.

When done well, an executive succession planning process can help organizations align their strategic business needs with their talent strategy.   It can provide a proactive opportunity to identify and develop talent for potential future organizational changes.

Read on to learn more about the importance of executive succession planning We also offer executive coaching services if you think your business may need help with the process.

What is an Executive Succession Plan?

Executive succession planning is a formal, strategic approach for creating a surplus supply of talent, preparing that talent for key position openings, transitioning leaders successfully into their next roles, and assuring readiness for changing business needs.

Though not all companies have an executive succession plan, (but they should!), those that have a plan aligned to the overall organizational strategy, are much better prepared for (sometimes sudden) organizational changes. Additionally, organizations experiencing high growth, market changes, merger and acquisition activity and a large number of close-to-retirement executives would be well served by the benefits of executive succession planning.

3 benefits of executive succession planning

Through the structured process of executive succession planning, organizations solidify leadership continuity in vital positions, retain and develop knowledge capital and relationships for the future. Among other benefits, companies who opt into executive succession planning will be able to:

  1. Identify internal leaders with the potential to assume greater responsibility.  In general, creating plans give organizations more of life’s most valuable asset: time. By having an executive succession plan in place, your organization will have more time to identify and develop individuals who have the most potential to assume greater responsibility. That means that when the time comes, you’ll have already done your research.
  2. Offer future leaders opportunities for critical developmental experiences. If possible, organizations should begin planning 2-5 years ahead of their need. Getting ahead of the game will allow organizations to develop your future executives for roles before they step into them. During the interim, executive succession planning allows organizations the time to begin exposing leadership candidates to certain aspects of their future position, build competencies, and address gaps.
  3. Build your talent bench. Organizations can have a great starting lineup, but any great team knows that depth wins championships. Avoiding investing all your time and energy on one prospect can help set up organizations for long-term success by focusing on developing a long line of individuals with high potential.

How to create an executive succession plan

Organizational Strategy

Understanding the organizational mission, vision, strategic objectives and organizational goals prior to beginning the executive succession planning process is key.  Knowing where the business is going, what potential changes are down the road, how those changes may impact the organizational talent, and identifying the critical roles within the organization can all help well-frame an organizational strategy conversation.

This step should yield clarity on which roles will be included in the executive succession plan (typically, Vice President roles and above), high potential talent (Director and below), and a talent strategy that is aligned with organizational goals.

Talent Review

The talent review is an opportunity for leaders to identify talent, preliminarily assess that talent, and select successors for critical roles, and differentiate high potential talent.  Talent reviews can occur at functional, operational, and/or C-Suite levels. Leaders conduct an assessment of their talent by evaluating performance, leadership potential, and development opportunities.   Once that data is gathered, leaders collaborate and discuss their overall talent assessment with various levels of leadership.

At the close of the talent review phase,  individuals who will be included in the executive succession plan will be identified as the following:

  • Ready now
  • Ready in 1-2 years
  • Ready 3-5 years

Complete this for each of the critical roles identified in the organizational strategy phase.

Executive Assessment

Executive assessments like 360 Feedback, personality assessments, and executive assessment centers can be great tools to learn more about critical role successors and high potential talent.  While assessments are one dimension of identifying executive talent, most organizations benefit when they supplement the Talent Review process with Executive Assessments. Assessments should help identify an individual’s strengths and competencies for leadership, behaviors that can inhibit leadership effectiveness and potential fit with a role, environment or organization.

Executive Coaching and Development

Through the support of an executive coach, leaders can better understand assessment feedback, identify strengths and high leverage development areas, and outline a development plan.  Executive Coaching can also provide objective, one-on-one coaching to better develop self-awareness, understand how others may perceive the leader or their behavior, guide development in gap areas, and help address derailing behavior.  

The Más Talent Advantage

Many executives need support to begin the executive succession planning process, but not all human resources leaders have the expertise necessary.  

We do.  

Our experience in executive succession planning and executive coaching with a diverse range of organizations and industries means we can support your needs.

Request a free consultation to begin developing your executive succession plan or explore our executive coaching services to see how our solutions can benefit your organization.