Alan Lakein quote about poking holes and goals

You Can Tick the ‘Succession Planning’ Box by Completing this Simple Succession Planning Template for HR Managers. Watch out for the Pitfall. See below.

Most companies do not have a succession plan. They neglect to implement even basic succession planning tools. This is because it can feel like a ‘woolly mammoth’. A Time Management term for a task that is huge and therefore people don’t know where to start!

The Journal of Accountancy noted that 79% of businesses recognise that the succession planning process will need to be addressed within the next 5 to 10 years. The purpose of this simple succession planning template below is to give HR Managers a foundation to work from. This template is not intended to be the ‘be all and end all’ of succession planning. This is because most companies just need to start, not create the best succession planning ever made.

Succession Planning is a process for identifying, developing and managing people of potential, otherwise known as the A-Players. The aim is to prepare them to fill key business leadership positions when the incumbent retires or moves on.

For instance, Tim Cook taking over from Steve Jobs at Apple. Tim had worked his way up the ‘Appletree’ for 13 years. Apple’s share price would have suffered without an immediate and credible successor. Knowing that ‘Andrew’ will take over from ‘Mike’ when he retires give great confidence, rather than panicking at the last minute.

Excuse the Interruption:

We know that HR Managers love this article and think you would too. Just click on the image below (It will open in a new tab, so you won’t lose where you are). 

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Succession Planning in the FMCG World

In the FMCG world of Account Managers and Category Managers, succession planning might seem less critical, and yet the cost of recruiting people from outside is high. HR Review states that the cost of replacing someone is £30,614. Some of those costs will still remain when promoting within, but the majority of costs are still spent on external recruiting. For example, using a recruitment agency, advertising the job, interview time, organising time, HR processing time, induction, etc.

Most businesses struggle to achieve their margin targets and therefore one of the key advantages of business succession planning is to save money. Plus, it is a relatively low-cost option to implement. Think about your business. How many external people have you hired in the last 12 months? (number x £30,614 = ?) it adds up fast!

Additional advantages include increasing employee confidence because they have a career path. Furthermore, by identifying what support each employee needs earlier can help to improve staff retention over the long term.

Let us help you to deliver Succession Planning in your business, with 121 Executive Coaching Support – Click on the tin can below to see the options that are available to you (A new window will open):

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Succession Planning Best Practises: Poke the Cheese to Begin!

‘Just start’ is our advice for succession planning because procrastinating is a challenge for everyone. As Alan Lakein, the original time management guru suggested, ‘…just make holes in the cheese’. He suggested that big tasks (Woolly mammoths) were like a piece of Swiss cheese. Start poking holes in the cheese. Then, before you know it the cheese will have disappeared.

Benefits of Using Our Simple Succession Planning Model

Finally, this simple excel template has 7 instructions. You will gain the following 7 benefits once you have completed this simple succession planning worksheet:

  • A noteworthy succession plan that ticks the box for an HR Manager.
  • All critical positions identified by the business.
  • Each critical position will have people ‘lined-up’ to take the position on 3 timeframes, from ‘ready now’ to ‘ready in 36 months’.
  • Each person will have had support identified that they need to achieve the next position (Use our competency frameworks to help assess their soft skills. See more about these below).
  • Knowledge shared by each line manager in their reports that would provide a career path.
  • A template that you could email to department managers to complete.
  • In addition, at the very least, a document to base a discussion on for the heads of departments.

Check out our award-winning blog for further HR Management Tips and articles.

Pitfall: Don’t Promote People and then see them Fail

Having a succession plan is one thing. Knowing who will take over from who and who is next in line. This is good planning. You don’t want this good work undermined by you falling into the pitfall that so many have – Promoting people and seeing them fall over.

How do you know who needs what? Identify their capability gaps now, before they are promoted and get them working on their development. To do this, you simply need to use our competency frameworks. They sound cumbersome. They are not. We designed a single page for each soft skill. On that page, it shows the soft skill, e.g. Time Management, and then there are 5 levels. From not great to great.

You simply give these competency frameworks to the people due to be promoted on your completed succession planning template. They select the most relevant skills – those that they will need in their new job or those that need to improve to succeed in their new job. Then they discard the other competency frameworks. Identify their current level for each soft skill, the level needs, and then discuss how to get from one to the other with you. You can then contact us for support.

The competency frameworks will open in a new tab, allowing you to keep this one open.

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Contact Us

Feel free to get in touch. Simply fill out the form below or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to get back to you with further information.


For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to People Management Skills and our People Management Skills YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more People Management Skills Tips and  HR Management Tips.

Interested in training? See how our People Management Course could be of help to you.

Darren A. Smith

About Darren A. Smith

Darren has been working in the world of UK Supermarkets & Suppliers for over 25 years. He began his career as a buyer at big 4 UK supermarkets and after 13 years he decided to leave to set-up Making Business Matter because he wanted to help suppliers and supermarkets to work better together.

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