Development and Retention

Development and Retention

When a senior manager leaves an organisation, whether it’s a sudden departure or a well-planned one, a gap is left that must be filled quickly, efficiently and by someone with the right knowledge and expertise.

If the organisation has a good succession plan in place, this is normally a fairly smooth transition. But if you haven’t planned a proper succession system, finding an appropriate and prepared replacement can be a difficult task.

Benefits of succession planning

Succession planning is all about identifying and developing potential leaders for the future. If, say, a key executive suddenly departed the company, with a succession plan in place there would be someone ready to step up to the role, having had previous training and relevant exposure.

Succession planning isn’t just important for when executives leave, it applies to the teams below too. If your organisation is expanding, or offering promotions, there will frequently be roles that need to be filled. Having your developed internal talent pool ready can ease the process of placing people into higher level roles.

How to create a succession plan

If you’ve considered devising a succession plan for your organisation but aren’t sure how to go about putting it in place, consider these seven steps:

  1. Identify the areas of expertise that are fundamental attributes for the leadership of your department and determine who, internally, fits the bill (or has the potential to learn the relevant skills).
  2. Analyse what expertise gaps are left, i.e. what areas do each of your chosen managers need to work on to get to the level you need them to be?
  3. Offer adequate internal and external training, for employees to prepare them for progression and expand their knowledge and skill set.
  4. Conduct regular appraisals and give performance feedback.
  5. Consider using psychometric testing to assess potential managers.
  6. Challenge your pool of high potentials by assigning higher level projects, it will give them extra experience, and you can evaluate their skills.
  7. Consider looking externally too, particularly if there’s no one suitable within your own organisation. A recruitment consultancy can conduct talent mapping to keep you up-to-date with who’s available in the relevant market.

A succession plan will only be effective if it’s ongoing. Once it’s been put in place, make sure it’s always up-to-date; revaluate talent pools, taking into account the shifting requirements of key roles. You may find that as your organisation expands, or as the market changes, your management requirements will change.

Keep track of the results of the succession plan; you should know how effective your development systems are. Succession planning can also aid employee retention, particularly at senior level. When an organisation puts the time, effort and money into training and developing its staff, they feel valued and are less likely to be tempted to resign when one of their key figures leaves. With this in mind, ensure you don’t concentrate all your efforts on just one person, who could leave the business; you need to develop a group of talent.

If you’d like help with external hires for your succession plan, please contact us.

What to look for

Every member of your team will experience some professional development while they’re at work, but if you’re in a senior leadership position, you’ve probably noticed that some have qualities that others lack. If you’re looking to make an internal promotion there are certain attributes you should be looking for in your next manager.


This is essential for anyone in a managerial position. Look out for the way they handle others in their team and how proactive they are in their role.


The nature of senior positions means that they must be able to clearly communicate objectives to their team.

Problem solving abilities

If a member of the team encounters a problem, they should be able to approach their line manager for guidance. Managers must be able to look at a situation objectively and decide on the best approach to resolving the issue.


Even with plenty of assistance, it’s essential that anyone in a managerial position can keep up to date with projects and delegate tasks to their team, and this requires good organisation.


They should be able to continue working as part of a team, even if their new role means they now mainly delegate.

Decision making abilities

If a manager can’t make the final call then who will?

If you’ve already got someone in mind for a promotion then it’s important you weigh up these skills before giving them a more senior role. A good test of someone’s managerial aptitude is giving them some of your responsibilities while you’re out of the office. You can get feedback from them and the rest of the team afterwards to see how they did.

Why promote from within?

The candidate already works for the business; you’ll be familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s still a good idea to conduct an interview with each candidate – someone you might have previously discounted could end up surprising you.

Only promote from within if you’re going to supply the support afterwards too. If you don’t already have one, think about implementing a mentor scheme to give your new manager some guidance for their first few weeks to let them get to grips with the new role.

Bear in mind that not all employees who excel at their job are suitable for a promotion into a managerial role, take a look at the external market too in case there is a more appropriate candidate out there.
For more employer advice, take a look at the other articles in our employer centre.