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Part 1-Identify and Prioritize Key Positions

​Part 1 brings together the findings from the workforce planning analysis accomplished in Phases 1 – 3 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model to strategically determine the organization's areas of highest succession risk within key positions.


Using the findings from Phases 1 – 3 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model. Determine which of your organization's mission-critical functions need to be addressed through succession management strategies.


A written document identifying the prioritized key positions to be addressed through succession management at your organization.

Steps to Accomplish the Deliverable

  1. Extract the key positions from your workforce planning analysis, performed in Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model that could benefit from succession management strategies. A key position includes leadership, technical, or other.

  2. Identify gaps in succession management strategies that are currently taking place within the organization (if any), that address the key positions extracted from the workforce planning analysis.

  3. Prioritize the key positions that currently lack effective succession management strategies.  These remaining key positions should be prioritized based on functions that most critically support your organization's mission, along with their level of risk which may be based on factors identified in the Classification Risk Assessment Flow Chart | PDF, or the Position Risk Assessment Calculator | PDF

  4. Identify the competencies, additional KSAs, and training critical to the success of the key positions by using the results from the competency analysis performed in Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model, or gaining feedback directly from the key positions through an interview or survey.

Tools to Assist with Steps


​Step 1

Step 3​

Step 4

Detailed Information to Assist with Steps

Definition of Succession Management

Succession Management is the process of identifying and developing current employees with the potential to fill key positions, identifying competency gaps, and developing strategies to addressing the needs.

Succession management is an approach which should be applied when an organization wants to plan for continuity of critical functions and business lines to mitigate loss of services to customers. Organizations may choose to apply succession management strategies to any variety of positions which would benefit from a succession management approach.  For example, if a Career Executive Assignment (CEA) position has been identified as a key position that supports a critical function, then feeder classifications reporting up to the CEA would be strong candidates for succession management , as illustrated through the following procession of classifications: SSMII, would be developed to succeed → SSMIII, would be developed to succeed → CEA.   

Key Terms

Key Position - A position whose decision-making authority and related responsibilities significantly influence organizational policies, strategic goals, business operations, or mission-critical projects. A key position can be a managerial position or a highly specialized individual contributor position.  ​​​

Succession Management Best Practices

Thoroughly analyze all pertinent workforce data to develop a data-driven basis for succession management.  For detailed instruction on workforce data analysis refer to Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model.

  • Gain buy-in from executive leadership as well as division and program areas by presenting a compelling rationale for the benefits of succession management.
  • Identify and apply leadership competencies for selecting and developing a talent pool.
  • Anticipate and mitigate barriers to knowledge transfer.
  • Be proactive in identifying and developing a talent pool that will meet long-term business needs.
  • Ensure succession management accomplishes more than continuity of leadership. In rapidly growing fields succession management needs to provide for backfilling of leadership positions, as well as filling other key positions serving mission critical functions.
  • Drive a culture of continuous learning where employees are committed to their own self-development.
  • Ensure senior leaders are personally involved and hold themselves accountable for growing leaders.
  • Communicate succession management findings, be transparent and consider inclusion in the organization’s strategic plan.
  • Link succession management activities to strategic, workforce planning, Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, and State Leadership Accountability Report ​goals.
  • Integrate succession management components with Labor Relations, Legal and the Equal Employment Opportunity functions.

Step 4: Identify Competencies for Key Positions

Interview or survey the identified high risk key positions.  Utilize the competency set or model developed in Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model, to incorporate in your interview or survey. This process will result in a prioritized list of position specific competencies, additional KSAs, and training for the key positions.  The Competency Identification Survey PDF  is an example organizations can use for this purpose. The results will be used to compare the potential candidate's competencies with the key position's competencies.

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