How Effective Is Your Succession Planning?

Do you have a plan in place today to identify and train the people who will lead your organization tomorrow? In today’s Advisor, we get expert advice on how to plan for your organization’s continued success.

If a firm loses its top leaders, who will take their place? It’s a question without an answer within many organizations, according to research from Robert Half Legal.

Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, stresses that “proactive planning not only ensures the transfer of knowledge and business continuity, but it also adds to the stability of the firm, which can be beneficial to employees, shareholders, and clients alike.”

Volkert notes that it can take years for firms to identify and train new leaders for key roles. “When developing succession plans, consider a broad spectrum of issues, including day-to-day operations, client service, business development, and practice group management,” he added.

Robert Half Legal offers these five tips for effective succession planning:

  1. Identify critical positions. Determine which specialties are core business areas, and determine what effect the retirement of staff supporting these areas will have on the firm.
  2. Zero in on leadership skills. Look beyond a potential successor’s expertise to determine whether that person is able to create a vision and inspire others. The best candidates often bring a variety of skills to the table.
  3. Develop a knowledge transfer process. Ask a departing employee to develop a plan for sharing as much knowledge as possible with his or her successor, such as conducting an analysis of work and preparing documentation to capture critical information.
  4. Make mentoring a priority. Once a successor has been identified, it’s wise for leaders to engage in active mentoring. This may include inviting the professional to key meetings and making him or her aware of challenges to the business.
  5. Go for a test run. Vacations can be an opportune time to put a future leader in charge and see how that person performs. Having an eventual successor take the reins during absences can also make time off more relaxing for executives and senior managers.


In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll get 5 more tips on training the leaders of tomorrow.