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Part 3 - Develop Succession Management Strategies

Determine which succession management strategies will ensure a strong pipeline of talent is ready to assume mission critical roles.  Succession management strategies develop a deep bench strength through employee recruitment, development and retention.


Part 3 identifies strategies to address succession management needs based on competency gaps existing in the current talent pool.


An action plan with measureable strategies and objectives to address succession needs in the highest priority areas.

Steps to Accomplish the Deliverable

  1. Develop strategies that contain specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time-based (SMART) metrics to address succession needs based on the competency gap analysis between the candidate pool and the key positions, performed in Part 2.  When developing strategies, consider the following:​
    1. Ensure strategies are developed for the candidate pool, as well as the whole organization, if the candidate pool reflects a different segment apart from all employees in the organization.
    2. Leverage or improve existing strategies.
    3. Determine if and how it is appropriate to assess eligibility to participate in succession management effort.
    4. Identify the type(s) of knowledge required in key position areas and the most appropriate strategies to capture that knowledge.
    5. Ensure strategies exist for an individual to evaluate their own development needs, and pursue a targeted development plan.
  2. Meet with individuals in the candidate pool to discuss their eligibility to participate (if applicable), deliver feedback regarding competencies they should focus on developing based on the competency gap analysis, and develop a plan to improve their readiness for mission critical roles (incorporating new and existing strategies developed).
  3. Develop a process to track employee progress.

  4. Complete steps 1 - 3 then return to Phases 3 – 5 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model to ensure the succession management action plan and strategies are incorporated into the overall workforce plan. Track their implementation and evaluation within the context of the workforce plan.  If an organization is pursuing succession management apart from workforce planning, follow the phases in the State of California Workforce Planning Model and apply the direction specifically to succession management.

Resources to Assist with Steps

Step 1

Step 3

Detailed Information to Assist with Steps

Step 1: Develop Succession Management Strategies

In some cases there are general knowledge transfer strategies you will want to implement throughout the organization, such as developing standard operating procedures for how to complete critical processes throughout the organization.  In other cases you will be utilizing a more targeted approach to develop competencies and may want to prioritize efforts based on employee Readiness Assessment PDF results.

Succession management can be addressed through a variety of strategies such as recruitment, development/learning and retention, as outlined below:

  • Recruitment—Strengthens the ability of the organization to acquire the most qualified talent.
    • Market organization as a “best place to work”.
    • Create attractive job announcements.
    • Highlight benefits of working for your organization such as: mentorship, recognition, wellness and professional development programs.
    • Create a personal connection with your audience.
    • Perform competency based interviewing.
  • Development/Learning—Promotes development of competencies, exposure to more challenging experiences and broaden horizons outside the immediate organization.
    • Action learning team projects.
    • Leadership project roles.
    • Communities of practice.
    • Formal leadership training.
    • Other formal training classes.
    • Temporary assignments.
    • Job rotation: full-time or part-time.
    • Job shadowing.
    • Mentorship and coaching
    • Self-development: community/volunteer activities, individual study.
  • Retention—Enhances workforce motivation, commitment, and performance around mission accomplishment.
    • Mentorship and coaching.
    • Onboarding.
    • Feedback and recognition.
    • Quality of work life programs: telework, alternative work schedules, fitness and wellness programs.

To view examples, tools, and resources from other state organization visit the Succession Management section of the Workforce Planning Toolkit webpage.

Step 1.c: Determine Eligibility

Depending on the formality of the succession management effort, or the capacity for the number of candidates the effort can accommodate, participation may be all-inclusive, or prioritized to a certain number or group(s) of candidates determined by objective criteria. Develop an objective and well-documented process for determining if, how, and by whom employee eligibility will be assessed.  CalHR recommends compiling a review panel that can consist of the Succession Management Coordinator/Facilitator, Candidate's Manager, Leadership Development staff, and an Executive level member.  The following objectives should inform the candidate eligibility process:

  • Understand the candidates strengths, gaps, and developmental goals and priorities.
  • Obtain insight from Managers/Supervisors and executives about the candidate's potential to assume mission critical roles and responsibilities.
  • Discuss the diverse development opportunities that would effectively assist in preparing potential candidates.

All eligible employees should have the opportunity to self-nominate and express their interest in participating in the succession management effort. Eligibility requirements may include:

  • Good standing
  • Manager approval
  • Employment status (PFT, PI, LT, etc.)

Employees who are not eligible should continue to receive development opportunities to prepare them for eligibility in the future.

Step 1.d: Knowledge Transfer

There are three major types of knowledge:

  1. Explicit knowledge—Concrete knowledge that can be easily recorded, such as processes and procedures.
  2. Tacit knowledge—Experience or observation that can be captured through relationships such as mentoring.
  3. Institutional knowledge—Cultural understanding of the organization (such as awareness of historical outcomes, expectations, internal politics, and other environmental factors) that can be captured through a combination of archives and sharing personal experience.

Mitigating Barriers to Knowledge Transfer

When implementing succession management and/or knowledge transfer strategies, the organization's leadership team should acknowledge and challenge common barriers to knowledge transfer with their employees, such as:

  • Difficulty communicating highly specialized knowledge/processes.

    • If necessary, managers and supervisors should assist employees in effective communication of the material.

    • Ensure employees receive sufficient time to train others with consideration to their ongoing responsibilities.

  • Organizational “silos” that hoard knowledge in one area of the organization.

    • Emphasize common goal to support the organization's missions and goals.

    • Create opportunities to work across different areas in the organization.

  • Knowledge hoarding​.

    • Assure employees that their level of expertise will grow when they share their knowledge with others, which could increase their marketability while training others.

    • Encourage employees to engage in mutual knowledge sharing to increase their own breadth of knowledge.

  • Investment of time and effort.

    • Reframe the investment of time and effort  to show that having more than one employee able to perform a critical job function makes the employee’s job easier and less stressful.  Additionally, the more people that have knowledge of their function and processes, the greater understanding there is for the length of time or complexity involved in a process.     

While employees may not be aware of their own barriers, it is important to communicate these along with suggestions for alternative perspectives.

Step 1.e: Individual and Group Strategies

Some strategies will be developed to accommodate individual needs of the candidates,  While others can be developed to address a larger group’s needs, and may be beneficial for multiple audiences, not just those participating in succession management.

Step 2: Meet with Candidates

   A support panel should meet with candidates to discuss the following:

  • Meet with candidates to discuss their eligibility.  Refer to Step 1.1 for considerations when determining eligibility.
  • Deliver feedback regarding their strengths and competency opportunities for development (based on position specific competencies identified in Step 4 of Part 1 and assessment process utilized in Step 3 of Part 2).  
  • Develop a plan to improve their readiness to assume a key position and set concrete developmental goals which incorporate existing and new strategies developed.

Step 3: Track Employee Progress

Develop a plan to track employee progress.  On top of ongoing development plan evaluations and adjustments, as needed, the review panel utilized in Step 1.1 should conduct a formal evaluation at the end of one year.  Discuss who met development goals and what their next steps for development are, who needs to focus on various competencies in the next year, etc..  Again, managers ​should meet with candidates to provide feedback and determine next steps.

At this point, CalHR recommends re-advertise the program to gain ongoing participants and maintain a large pool of talented employees with the skills to potentially succeed key positions.

Step 4: Reincorporate Strategies into Workforce Plan

Once you have completed Part 3 and developed strategies and an action plan for implementing them, return to Phases 3 – 5 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model to ensure the action plan and strategies are incorporated into the overall workforce plan.  Implementation and evaluation of succession management strategies will continue to be tracked within the context of the workforce plan.  If your organization is pursuing succession management apart from workforce planning, follow the phases in the State of California Workforce Planning Model and apply the direction specifically to succession management.​​

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