Journal: advance your effectiveness. My thoughts, tips and experiences – shared with you.

Time for YOU. Read this section with a cuppa. Take a moment to switch off, focus on my words of wisdom – support your development and effectiveness.

This is YOU

Succession Planning – Who Is On Your Bench?…

The past few years have taught us all that change can happen at any moment so why do so few organisations invest time in succession planning for their senior leadership team?  Leaders leave, sometimes with little or no notice. The Great Resignation has impacted every sector with more senior leaders than ever before choosing to retire early or look for a more flexible approach or alternative option for a better work/life balance.  The only thing that remains constant post-pandemic is change is here to stay, so why is it that research shows that most organisations are ill-prepared to replace their most senior roles?  One thing is clear – having a clear succession plan for your leadership structure is critical.

It’s at this time of year that organisations tend to review who is on their leadership bench and where they are on their leadership development curve.  Creating a comprehensive succession strategy means taking account of all of the key areas of your organisation and having a clear plan for what happens in every potential scenario for key roles. Do you have someone who can stand in quickly and smoothly should something unexpected happen to your most senior leader?

Having a clear and effective succession plan helps organisations to be prepared for the future and also to map the development needs of the key talent already within the organisation. A recent study by McKinsey stated that career development and job growth are still the key career drivers behind employee retention, so having a comprehensive review and plan for your key talent is also an effective long-term retention strategy. Having your internal talent’s strengths and potential already mapped can also help to mitigate against the need for a hasty and potentially lengthy recruitment drive to replace a key position.

Assessment Insights Aren’t Just Words on A Page

Incorporating assessment into your succession planning and talent strategy initiatives can be a win-win when implemented well.

It’s an incredibly fulfilling conversation as a talent strategy expert to hear leaders express the positive impact an assessment has had on them – a deeper level of learning about the leadership opportunities that will set them up for success increasing their engagement and energy for their role and strategic objectives.

We are all talented and even at a leadership level we don’t always know where our talents are best served. We fall into the deliverable trap and that’s a risk for any organisation.

The words on a page of the assessment provide organisation with clarity for their succession planning. An framework for a succession plan could look like this:

Identify the pivotal roles within your organisation

  • Which are the roles that if not delivered make it difficult to achieve organisational goals?
  • Which of the roles if there were to suddenly become vacant expose your growth strategy?

Identify key capabilities for key roles 

  • What are the essential knowledge, abilities, behaviours and skills needed to fulfil this role?
  • What does success look like in this role?

Assess your internal talent and look for fit and potential

  • How do your talent fit the future direction of your organisation?
  • Who is demonstrating the potential for a broader role?

 Implement A Targeted Development Plan

  • How ready are the talent listed against succession plans?
  • What development do we need to design to ensure our talent are ready

Evaluate Your Plan

  • Continually re-assessing your succession plan is essential to ensuring it is achieving its core objective.
  • Consider how nimble your succession plan is – thinking lateral moves, shift if strategy to avoid getting stuck.

The key to creating an effective long-term succession plan is ensuring you are always one step ahead and prepared for change. A commitment to ensuring your leadership team is regularly assessed, developed and coached for future success demonstrates a commitment to growth that is a highly attractive proposition for future talent.

Do You Need to Build or Buy for Your Next Phase Of Growth?

I find most companies experience a shift in terms of what the next phase of business priorities will look like every 3 to 5 years. It might be there are economic challenges that force an adjustment or a more systemic change in enhancing ways of working through a digital agenda, or maybe it’s about embracing more diverse and inclusive ways of dealing with an expanded global workforce.

Whatever the reason a forward focused approach is essential or you run the risk of going backwards and losing market share. From a talent strategy and workforce planning perspective this means horizon gazing and planning for critical roles that may not even exist today.

How do organisations legislate for this? Often it’s when external advice is needed. A market perspective to know what’s influencing talent activity.

  • Do these roles exist elsewhere?
  • If they are completely new what value will these roles make?
  • How can we leverage existing talent to get them ready for this shift?

Whilst this is a significant topic an organisation only has a few choices for how to stay ahead. Build or Buy.


  • It’s about creating a talent assessment and development strategy that identifies leadership characteristics that are transferable.


  • It’s about finding executive search partners to help you understand the external trends.

As you plan your talent strategies this year are you prioritising to build or buy?

A shiny strategy doesn’t mean success

I’ve seen this situation countless times in my twenty plus year career. Organisations can have the best strategy, the most capable consultants creating your strategy but without the right talent who is going to deliver it?

In my opinion Talent eats Strategy for breakfast.

Having a robust talent strategy for 2023 starts and ends with recruiting and retaining the right people but the key to achieving your strategy is having in-depth insights at your fingertips about the talent in your business.

It’s your talent that will need to bring that strategy to life. Knowing who your talent are, what makes them tick and how capable they are at delivering your strategy is essential but often a delayed, reactive initiative.

Here are some key questions to consider when reviewing your talent strategy for 2023.

  • Do you have clarity on key behaviours and skills needed to drive growth?
  • What is going to motivate your leaders to deliver for you?
  • Do you know your leader’s capacity to grow and evolve in their role?
  • Do you have insight into how your leaders are likely to make decisions for your future?
  • Are you aware of the potential risks of your leaders in strategic roles?

Building a comprehensive assessment of your existing and potential talent informs your decision-making, creates clarity for which leaders you have mapped against which key positions for the future and mitigates risk.

For more help with assessment and succession planning feel free to reach out to me in confidence for more information or download my free ebook 5 Steps To Creating Your Ultimate Success Strategy. 

5 Steps To Creating Your Ultimate Succession Strategy