Succession Planning

by Martin Haworth

Step 8 – recruitment principles

Managing succession planning effectively is always best started as you bring people into your team. Thinking ahead and seeing new recruits at least one, if not two steps ahead of your immediate needs is a hugely valuable exercise.

Pro-actively recruiting individuals who you can see have talent to go further is ultimately a time-saving focus, and you will be able to apply the development steps as they gain experience so they are prepared as they move forward.


Be honest with yourself and appreciate any bias, however small, that you might have when you recruit. Naturally we like to work with people we like, yet this might well not serve you best.

There’s an additional issue here: when you recruit right first time, it’s less likely that you will be creating problems with poor performance in the future. One of the requirements for succession planning is that you start to manage underperformance and need to cover gaps quickly as you weed out those who are not able to cope. If you never had that problem, you would of course lessen the need for succession planning.

It may take longer to recruit for key positions as you search for the right person and during that time performance may suffer in the area where the gap exists. On the other hand, if you make the wrong decision, you may find yourself managing declining performance from someone you recruited badly, which will be much more demanding and last for a longer period.

Taking the time to get the right person will always be worth the frustration and effort. It will help if you first make sure that you understand what you are going to do and prepare well before you go into the process.

Step eight activities

  • Consider your recruiting processes and their success or otherwise in the past.
  • Decide what drove you to make decisions in the past and adjust, wherever possible, to be role focused.
  • What steps can you take to be even more accurate in those you recruit, especially for key roles?
  • Remember to recruit to the criteria of the role, not the person.
  • Where recruiting has been a challenge, what can you do to be more creative in how you find the right people?
  • Identify three additional roles for those your recruit from now on, at whatever level, and see, informally, how they measure up against bigger criteria and competence.

You want succession planning to work seamlessly and silently (and very productively!) behind the scenes to keep your workload low – and it will. There will still be small adjustments to keep those plates spinning.