Developing the Succession Plan

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”
– ProverbOnce you have a grasp of your business and know the direction you want to take, it is time to develop a succession plan. To do this determine your priorities, use the priorities to set goals and objectives, and develop a strategy to achieve these goals. When this process is complete begin drafting the succession plan that fits your needs.

Prioritize What the Succession Plan Will Address
The priorities of each company will be unique. Do you need to focus on training people for executive management positions? What are the strengths you wish to achieve? Use the SWOT analysis to help guide you.

Common Business Priorities:

  • Profit increase
  • Customer service
  • Employee loyalty
  • Inventory control
  • Customer loyalty

Clearly defining the company’s priorities will decide what type of knowledge transfer will be covered in the succession plan.

Set Goals and Objectives
Success for any plan requires specific goals and objectives. Goals and objectives give participants motivation and a sense of direction.

The goals and objectives of any business strategy need to be SMART:

  • Specific: Goals should have specific instructions. For example, a specific goal would be instructing mentors to meet with protégés once a week.
  • Measurable: It should be clear when goals and objectives are met. For example, reducing turnover by 10 percent is a measurable goal, rather than simply reducing turnover.
  • Attainable: Impossible goals are not motivating. Make sure that goals are reasonable and attainable such as improving sales by a reasonable percentage.
  • Relevant: Goals need to be relevant to employees and their functions. Asking someone in production to improve customer service is not very relevant.
  • Timely: Goals need specific timeframes. For example, ask that turnover drop five percent in six months.

Develop a Strategy for Achieving Goals
SMART goals cannot be achieved without taking strategic action. The goals need to be divided into individual actions. After setting goals, it is important to write down a list of steps to achieve the goals. Brainstorm a few different ideas then critique them for their effectiveness. Be sure to seek out feedback from those involved.


  • Goal: To improve employee loyalty and decrease turnover of two percent in 60 days.


  • Increase training
  • Match mentors and protégés
  • Evaluating job descriptions and pay scales
  • Set clear expectations
  • Communicate consistently

Draft the Plan
Once everything from the SWOT analysis, goals, and strategies is considered, the information is used to draft the plan. The plan determines specific steps taken on a routine basis to achieve business goals and also the timeline for reaching those goals. Plans must be reevaluated from time to time to measure their effectiveness. It is important to be flexible and monitor the plan carefully.

Plan Includes:

  • Goal/ Objective
  • Action/ Activity
  • Dates
  • Status

Case Study

Erin needed to gather the company’s committee together for a meeting. She wanted to make it a goal to make and increase customer loyalty. After a brief discussion, they realized they needed a time frame and an actionable plan, so they developed a more specific goal. In the end, they wanted to increase customer loyalty by five percent within the next year. They determined that the best way to do that is to develop an employee rewards program, which is the one thing that gives the competition an upper hand. After looking at the cost-effectiveness of some options for that plan, they found the one that best fit and were able to put it into action. They were able to reach their goal due to proper planning.