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How succession planning can help you compete in the talent market

Nov 01, 2021

Employers are struggling to find talent in today’s competitive market.

One of the reasons for this is the historically low number of people in this country who are over the age of 18.

Another reason is COVID-19-related. People are re-examining their lives as a result of their experiences throughout the pandemic and, in many cases, making drastic changes — including dropping out of the market altogether. The Department of Labor recently released data indicating that in the months of April, May and June of 2021, 11.5 million people self-selected out of the marketplace. We are facing a talent crisis that will continue for several more years, at minimum.

Now, more than ever, employers must implement practices to retain talent.

One highly effective practice is succession planning. When employees feel valued and are provided with a future vision of their opportunities, they are more inclined to stay with their current employer.

What does effective succession planning look like?

Generally, a robust succession planning process includes the following steps:

  1. Identify key positions or roles in your organization: Clarify the skills, knowledge and attributes needed for success in these key roles. Determine competencies important to the organization overall, as well as leadership competencies for various roles.
  2. Identify high-potential, high-performance employees: Identify who has or can develop the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes to succeed the incumbent in each key position. Focus on retaining these employees first. It’s important to assess successor candidates against the competencies to identify gaps in order to develop a career blueprint for each successor.
  3. Evaluate the employee population: Look for highly skilled individuals and those with unique knowledge to determine who would replace them should they leave. How do you know who these people are? Ask the question: “If this person left the organization today, would it leave a significant void that we wouldn’t immediately know how to fill?”
  4. Determine successor candidates’ readiness to move to another position: Readiness charts can help you identify their strengths and development needs, as well as track who is immediately ready to assume a role, who may be able to serve in an interim capacity, and who may be ready over time.

One you have followed these steps, you’re ready to create the full succession plan.

Tying these elements together with career paths and individual coaching and mentoring can go a long way toward maintaining intellectual strength and thus reduce turnover.

Need assistance?

Wipfli can help your organization implement effective succession planning, taking you through each step of the process and providing an objective perspective to help you make the right decisions for your organization. Contact us to learn more.

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Barbara Low, SPHR, RODC
Senior Manager
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