Jim Collins coined the phrase “getting the right people on the bus and wrong people off.”  The concept is one that CEO’s deal with regularly.  An additional challenge is ensuring that the right folks are in the right seats with depth of coverage.  You have the right people; however you’re not sure if you’ve got the right talent waiting in the wings.  SBI developed the Succession Planning Tool to help CEOs and HR leaders uncover strengths and weaknesses within their existing talent pool.   


It’s not just an HR consideration. We speak with CEOs and Sales Leaders who struggle with knowing whether they’ve got the right mix of talent in place to grow and maintain market share.


Now, perhaps more than ever, talent management is a crucial part of the game. Baby Boomers are preparing to retire and the talent gap is widening. This dynamic combined with normal advancement and attrition is compounding the potential problem.  We commonly hear:


How do we identify the gaps?  Do we have the right people in the right places to grow? Is there a weakness in our talent pool? How do we plan for succession?


While there is no quick fix, you should be asking and answering questions like:  


Do we have emergency candidates to fill our most critical roles? Who can we invest in immediately to mitigate our risk? Is our internal talent bench strong enough or do we need to look outside to organization? Are we prepared to support the change at all levels?


When establishing talent pool management or succession planning, consider the following seven step process. It will help you evaluate, identify, prepare and screen talent for potential openings. 


Checklist for Succession Planning

  1. Identify roles for succession and vacancy: Identification should consider risk and reward potential as it relates to each role.
  2. Identify competencies and accountabilities of roles: The building blocks of any role include core competencies and associated accountabilities for successful execution.
  3. Understand future needs and identify known gaps: The key elements of risk mitigation align to identifying needs and gaps.
  4. Identify potential candidates/successors: Depending on the role, identification should begin internally and pivot externally as needed based on limitations and deficiencies.
  5. Assess potential candidates/successors:  Competencies and accountabilities run in parallel with candidate assessments.
  6. Establish development plans with succession in mind: Individual Development Plans (IDPs) should incorporate talent advancement with succession in mind.
  7. Train to a development plan: Job trials or simulations can be a critical element of the training and vetting process.



Remember, succession planning is one piece in the overall talent management process. Unfortunately, it is an element often overlooked by management which left unaddressed will affect overall continuity of operations. 


Through successful planning, you develop employees, advance their knowledge and competencies, and prepare them for potential advancement. Moreover, you identify internal strenghts and external opportunities which you can build upon down the road.


Download the Succession Planning Tool to assist you and your team with identifying strengths and weaknesses in your talent bench/pool.



Aaron Bartels

Helps clients solve the most difficult challenges standing in the way of making their number.

He founded Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) with Greg Alexander and Mike Drapeau to help business to business (B2B) leaders make the number. The world’s most respected companies have put their trust in and hired SBI. SBI uses the benchmarking method to accelerate their rate of revenue growth. As an execution based firm, SBI drives field adoption and business results.

His clients describe him as a consultant who:


“Makes transformational impacts on me, my people and my business”


“Solves my most difficult problems that to date we have been unable to solve ourselves”


“Brings clarity to an environment of chaos”


“Has real world sales operations experience making him qualified to advise us on a variety of sales and marketing challenges”


“Is able to spot proven best practices that once implemented will make a material impact on my business”


“Constantly challenges status quo and compels us to act”


“Focuses on execution and driving change to stick in our environment”


“Makes good on his promises while enabling our business to realize his projected results”

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