Succession Planning


Course Name

Succession Planning

Course Code

PD-HR – B6

Number of Contact Hours

30 hours

Credit Hours

2 Credit Hour

Duration and Frequency

  • 15 sessions 
  • Each session = 2 hours
  • Frequency: daily Monday to Friday
  • Duration: 3 weeks

Mode of Delivery

  • Online/ On Campus/ Hybrid 


Professional Development – 

B – Human Resources

Course Description

This course is designed to provide an overview of key topics related to succession planning including identifying specific areas within your organization to initiate a succession planning program; performing a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis that will identify current and future leadership needs; using strategic planning and business needs to support a succession planning program; and developing a strategic plan for job descriptions, needs analysis, and strategies to bridge the gaps.



On completion of this course, participants are expected to:

  • Identify specific areas within your organization to initiate a succession planning program
  • Begin a succession planning program at your workplace – 55 percent of organizations do not have a formal program in place
  • Perform a SWOT analysis of the workplace that will identify current and future leadership needs
  • Use strategic planning and business needs to support the succession planning program
  • Start focusing on strategic succession planning programs at the non-executive level – only 10 percent of companies pay attention to levels below CEOs
  • Develop a strategic plan for job descriptions, needs analysis, and strategies to bridge the gaps
  • Create guidelines for implementing career development pathways for Hi-Pos and high performers
  • Establish defined career paths that will help your workplace recruit and retain employees
  • Achieve success rates in performance and promotability – organizations that implement succession planning programs can realize an 80 – 90 percent success rate over organizations that choose to do nothing
  • Maintain a supply of trained, experienced, and motivated employees who are capable of moving into key positions as necessary
  • Learn how to develop different generations in the workplace
  • Establish the foundation for an effective succession planning program
  • Apply best practices to create a succession planning program at your organization
  • Provide guidance, stability, and expectations for key stakeholders of the program, including employees, customers, suppliers, etc
  • Develop strategies to enhance the succession planning program
  • Identify how to align the future needs of the workplace with the availability of employees within the organization
  • Establish methods to measure the effectiveness of the program
  • Develop relationships with Hi-Pos; study the performance and behavior of successors over the years of your program
  • Retain key employees who might leave if they are not formally recognized as Hi-Pos or successors
  • Implement an effective succession planning program that could help you retain up to 98 percent of your workforce and have a recruitment success rate of up to 80 percent


Course Outline:

  1. What is Succession Planning? 

Succession planning is a process of identifying key positions within an organization to ensure employees are recruited, discovered, and developed to fill positions within your organization. Following this process you can develop a succession planning program to begin recruiting outstanding employees, develop their competencies, and prepare them for the future. The development process can help them be ready for promotions and career advancement within your organization.

  • Business reasons for succession planning
  • The traditional approach to succession planning
  • Alternative approaches to succession planning
  • Outside influences on succession planning

Practice Sessions – We will begin with an activity that will have you perform an assessment of your workplace’s succession planning program. Then, as a small team you will discuss the inside influences that will benefit and constrain a succession planning program in your workplace. With the help of your team, you will also identify which outside influences need to be considered at each workplace and present these ideas to the rest of your class participants.


  1. Best Practices for Succession Planning

All levels of the organization need to understand the benefits of an effective succession planning program. It is also helpful to review succession planning best practices from other industries and other organizations. Every program proposed to an organization will face its share of resistance and/or naysayers, and succession planning programs are not unique to these constraints. If you understand the possible constraints, you will be better prepared to overcome them as they arise when trying to initiate or implement your succession planning program.

  • Common succession planning practices
  • Overcoming resistance

Practice Sessions – You will begin this section by discussing succession planning best practices and then determining which ones would be viable to implement in your workplace. Potential barriers and risks to the success of the succession planning program will be discussed in small team efforts and discussed with all of your classmates. With the help of other participants, you will also discover strategies and tactics for how to overcome risks and resistance from stakeholders of the program.


  1. Phase 1 of Succession Planning – Begin / Initiate the Program

During this phase the organization makes the decision to begin the succession planning program or the next phase of the program. If your organization is new to succession planning this is the phase where you will be promoting the program on its benefits and showing the potential return on investment. If your organization already has a succession planning program, this is where checks and balances exist to see if the program should be changed or enhanced.

  • Risk management planning
  • Mission statement and objectives
  • Promotional opportunities
  • Appropriate stages for beginning the program
  • Timing of the program
  • Communicating the program

Practice Sessions – Using the knowledge and approaches gained in this section, you and your team will work on a case study exercise to create a succession initiation plan for a fictitious organization. Your work on this will be shared with all of the class participants.


  1. Phase 2 of Succession Planning – Needs Assessment on Current Roles & Responsibilities

This phase involves reviewing the roles and responsibilities of key positions within the organization, based on which stage or level the organization chooses to begin the process. These key positions should be the types of positions that help the organization achieve its goals and objectives for the strategic direction of the organization.

  • Reviewing the roles and responsibilities of key positions
  • Performing job and task analysis

Practice Sessions – You are now ready to continue working on the case study exercise by performing a needs assessment at the organization based on roles, responsibilities, job analysis, and task analysis. Your work on this will be shared with all of the class participants to gain additional insights.


  1. Phase 3 of Succession Planning – Performance Appraisals or Reviews

Using a current performance appraisal or review process is critical to identify which employees are eligible for the succession planning program. Performance appraisals are an excellent opportunity to identify high potentials

  • The significance of performance assessments for succession planning
  • Identifying high potentials 

Practice Sessions – With the help of your team, you will review a sample performance appraisal and determine the criteria identifying the employee as a high potential (Hi-Po). Each team will present their rationale to the other teams.


  1. Phase 4 of Succession Planning – Business Strategy on Future Roles & Responsibilities

Using information from the strategic planning process, this phase involves determining what the roles and responsibilities will be in the future for key positions.

  • Thinking strategically
  • Performing trends analysis
  • Conducting a SWOT analysis

Practice Sessions – You and your team will continue using the same case study to create a SWOT analysis on the organization to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats on future roles and responsibilities. This is a key first step in identifying gaps and strategy. You will then compare your results with the other class participants.


  1. Phase 5 of Succession Planning – Measure Future Employee Capabilities

This phase involves looking at the past performance of employees and determining if they have the potential to fulfill the requirements of future roles and responsibilities. Measuring future employee capabilities includes analyzing jobs, tasks, job descriptions, and competencies.

  • Forecasting human potential
  • Measuring employee potential for career advancement
  • Defining high potentials

Practice Sessions – You and your team will forecast work and competencies needed in the future for the case study and determine the employee’s potential for career advancement. You will then compare your results with the other class participants.


  1. Phase 6 of Succession Planning – Gap Analysis

This phase involves putting the information from Phases 2–5 into a grid and evaluating where gaps exist. The gap analysis can help an organization create progression or career paths for high potentials.

  • Creating a gaps grid
  • Interpreting the gaps

Practice Sessions – By putting all the puzzle pieces together from previous succession planning phases, you and your team will create a gaps grid. You will use this grid to help analyze where both gaps and development opportunities exist at the case study organization.

  1. Phase 7 of Succession Planning – Bridge the Gap 

Bridging the gap requires creating strategies to develop employees where their gaps exist. Care must be used to not focus only on weaknesses of employees, but to continue concentrating on strength development. Attention must also be focused on the needs of the different generations in the workplace.

  • Creating talent and acceleration pools
  • Filling up the leadership pipeline
  • Conducting development meetings
  • Following up with high potentials
  • Creating individual development plans
  • Developing employees and learning interventions
  • Designing a Nine-Box matrix

Practice Sessions – Now that you and your team understand where the gaps exist, you are ready to analyze which development approaches will work for the high potentials based on their generational needs. You will analyze the best implementation strategies to successfully complete development for Hi-Pos. In addition, you will build a Nine-Box matrix to classify the performance of high potentials at the case study organization.


  1. Phase 8 of Succession Planning – Evaluate and Monitor the Program 

It is essential to continuously evaluate the succession planning program to ensure the process is working and provide your organization with the results necessary to remain effective. There are numerous strategies available to evaluate the effectiveness of the succession planning program.

  • Conducting review meetings
  • Measuring the effectiveness of the program

Practice Sessions – The case study organization has completed one lifecycle of the succession planning phases. You and your team will now measure the effectiveness of the succession planning program during this lifecycle. Lessons learned will be identified and shared with other teams attending the workshop.


  1. Succession Planning Technology and Trends 

There are numerous suppliers of succession planning technology designed to help your organization manage the succession planning program. Technology can help you with all eight phases of developing a succession planning program, including communication aspects. 

Succession planning has been a popular topic in the United States for several years due to demographic trends and is increasingly becoming more common internationally for the same reason. Some statisticians predict succession planning will be a massive challenge to many nations by 2025. 

In this final section, we will review:

  • Program technology best practices
  • The top trends in succession planning


Course Textbook:

Managing Human Resources, 8th Edition

Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, University of Notre Dame

David B. Balkin, University of Colorado at Boulder

Robert L. Cardy, The University of Texas at San Antonio


Feedback Given to Participants in Response to Assessed Work 

  • Individual written feedback on coursework
  • Feedback discussed as part of a tutorial
  • Individual feedback on request
  • Model answers 


Developmental Feedback Generated Through Teaching Activities

  • Feedback is given at presentations and during tutorial sessions
  • Dialogue between participants and staff in tutorials and lectures



The course grade will be based on a final project presented by the participant and graded by the instructor. Participants much achieve a passing grade of 70% or more to be awarded a certificate of completion of the course.