How to Tie Succession Planning to Your Organization's Strategic Vision

One way to ensure your succession plan does what you want it to do is to tie it to your organization’s overarching strategic vision. Taking a cue from your organization’s approach to strategy and achievement will help you craft a succession plan that’s effective and reflects your culture.

Here’s what you need to know about connecting your succession planning to your organization’s strategic vision.

Look at the Big Picture

Even if your organization has a strategic plan or vision, hard economic times, rapid growth or other business challenges may have made leaders feel like they needed to set it aside until the crisis has passed or things slow down. Also, companies that get lean in reaction to challenges tend to  focus on current results and quarter-to-quarter results, rather than the big picture.

If you’ve narrowed your focus in recent years, take time to zoom out and identify what kind of strategic moves your company needs to make so it can grow. A good strategic plan looks at what your organization is trying to do and create, and also takes resources into consideration. This includes human resources and the kinds of people you will need to start or maintain progress toward that vision — and this is where a strong succession plan comes in.

Align Your Goals

Tying succession planning to something bigger, such as the company’s strategy, mission or vision, helps create buy-in for the succession plan itself. High-level leaders may need to be convinced that a succession plan is necessary, and focusing on the business’s long-term success illustrates its importance. Losing key leaders, knowledge or skills, or not having the talent in place to grow, can be disruptive to an organization’s strategy, so tie your succession plan to that strategy to help keep your organization on track.

Look at the Data

Worrying about unlikely scenarios, such as all the top-level managers leaving at once for a competitor, can make it difficult to develop a realistic succession plan. Instead, focus on things you can research and measure such as:

  • How many top-level managers are eligible for retirement in the next five years?
  • Which high-potential employees are on development paths with realistic timelines?
  • Which employees are ready to move into next-level leadership roles if a key leader were to quit or retire?
  • Will key promotions leave talent gaps?

Then, compare that knowledge with your strategic plan. Are those top-level managers eligible for retirement just when the organization is primed to expand? Will the high-potential employees be ready to step into positions when they’re needed? Ensuring your strategic plan and succession plan mesh will make both more effective.

Focus on Your Culture

Your organization’s culture likely sets the tone for your strategic plan. Ensuring that culture is a part of your succession plan will help tie the two together. A lean, aggressive company with an ambitious strategic plan will likely develop a succession plan that reflects that culture. A conservative organization whose strategic plan is more cautious may have a more moderate succession plan.

Having a plan to develop high-potential employees so they’ll be ready fill key positions when turnover,  retirements or growth happens is an important part of your organization’s strategic plan. Using your organization’s vision, data and culture will help put a succession plan together that effectively supports your organization’s overall strategy.

Learn more about succession planning in our new white paper:

Succession Planning: A Step-By-Step Guide

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.