Advantages of Succession Planning

This new guide will show you everything you need to know about succession planning. 

First, we’ll show you real life examples of succession planning failures and the top mistakes people make in succession planning.

Then, we’ll help you identify the real advantages of succession planning.

Sound good? Let’s dive right in…

Top 3 Succession Planning Failures

Do you know what Microsoft, Starbucks, Blackberry and Apple all have in common?

Apart from the obvious, they are all multi-billion-pound global companies who employ thousands of people!

Well, at one time or another they have all failed spectacularly at succession planning.

Guess what? 

If it’s happened to them, it could happen to you as well!

So, what is Succession Planning? 

Well, put simply Succession Planning is the process where an organisation ensures that employees are developed to fill each key role in the company. 

If you have succession planned well, you will have ensured that you never have a key role open for which another employee is not prepared.

Managers that succession plan well have a process in place to continuously develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of their employees.

They prepare them for advancement or promotion into more challenging roles within the business, this is why the term Business Succession Planning is sometimes used.

It’s about managing risk. 

The biggest risks to the business are where the gap between positions is too large.

Disadvantages for Business That Do Not Succession Plan

For example; the gap between an experienced Manager and a newly promoted Supervisor will obviously be massive. 

If the Manager were to leave, the Supervisor would not be able to step up and fill that role effectively, so the possibility of that Manager leaving makes it a high-risk position to fill.

Training and building experience takes time:

A manager who understands Succession Planning will be able to identify the risks in their team and take steps to reduce the size of the gap as quickly as they can through effective coaching and development.

Businesses that do not succession plan correctly will always struggle for the following reasons…

  • When a key member of the team leaves, the gap to the next person is always too big.
  •  This means the company must either internally promote someone who is not ready for the role, or recruit externally which can be expensive and time-consuming.

Businesses that do not succession plan generally have no clear direction for development or progression for their team. 

This is known to be one of the main reasons why employees leave their job.

  • Where there is no clear process for succession planning, decisions made about who gets the next promotion may appear unfair as there is no clearly defined structure of progression. (For this reason many successful businesses use succession planning templates)

Succession Planning Failures


Think back to the companies listed at the start of this article, they have all failed to succession plan correctly for the top roles in their organisation, sometimes at massive financial cost to the business.

When Thorsten Heins took over at Blackberry in 2012 his dream of a seamless succession from his predecessor, founder Mike Lazaridis, turned into a nightmare resulting in 4500 employees losing their jobs and a huge net loss to the company.


Kevin Rollins’ time in charge of Dell as CEO resulted in record profit losses and several top executives leaving the company before he was eventually fired in 2007 and replaced by the man he succeeded, founder Michael Dell.

Why did this happen? 

In both these cases it was because there was no effective process of succession planning in place to replace the most important position in the company – the CEO.

Want to know the top 3 mistakes to watch out for with succession planning to avoid having the same problem? 

Read on….

Top 3 Mistakes When Succession Planning

1- Only focusing your succession plan on one person for each position.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. 

Putting all your efforts into coaching one person who you think is right for the role, this will more than likely be someone you like or enjoy working with. 

But putting all your effort into one person severely restricts your options. 

What if they leave? 

Or maybe they are not good enough? 

A good succession plan means you will have 2 or 3 people capable of filling one position and then you can choose who is best suited for the role. That is to say:

It’s always better to have options.

2 – Not being able to tell the difference between who wants to lead and who just wants a promotion.

There will be people in your team who want the recognition of a promotion without any of the responsibility. 

There will also be people who are doing a great job for you, but they are happy doing what they are doing and don’t want an opportunity to progress.

If you don’t take the time to recognise and understand this, you will quickly end up with the wrong people in the wrong positions, costing you both time and money.

3 – Relying on one person who can deliver the results.

This happens all the time. 

Imagine you have one excellent salesman in your team. 

Your sales KPIs are always top of the company but the result is completely driven by one member of the team – nobody else contributes.

Your boss thinks your department is great for delivering such good results. 

Everything is going well, and you see no need to change anything. 

Then your top salesman leaves.

Suddenly your KPI results plummet!

Because you haven’t done any succession planning you don’t have anybody to replace your top salesman. 

Training someone now is going to take time. 

What’s more you could have got your top salesman to do the coaching for you when he still worked for you!

Advantages of Succession Planning

Good Succession Planning = Less work for you and continued success 


Lots of work for you and sub-standards results for you and your team!

Unbelievably, as we have seen, there are big companies out there that don’t have any type of Succession Planning process.

Imagine the countless missed opportunities that this brings. 

Unskilled people being over-promoted and doing a bad job. 

Others with great potential leaving because of a lack of opportunity, the list goes on.

Don’t get caught out! 

Managers and leaders that are skilled in succession planning will always outperform managers and companies that do not succession plan.

Every key position in your team can be identified and the gaps between those positions are reduced. Organisations will always have staff turnover but, done correctly, succession planning reduces the disruption caused when someone in a key position moves on.

In the long run this saves you time and it will save your business £££!

More Communication Tips