Start it now—Only bad things will happen if you wait. Set a deadline for a written succession plan.
Clarify expectations. What does the current CEO expect from each level of the organization? No initiative has a hope of succeeding if the CEO doesn’t support it and require commitment to it.
Review the current succession plan and audit its architecture to reveal vulnerabilities. Determine if this leadership pipeline supports your mission, vision, and values of the organization. Evaluate strategic objectives vis-à-vis the current pool of talent.
Based on this information, forecast future talent needs. Examine current versus required performance, existing enhancement initiatives, projected turnover, anticipated retirements, talent growth projection, demographics, and changing business trends.
Working together, the members of the leadership team establish competencies for each key position. Key positions exert critical influence on both strategy and execution and are at the pinnacle of the chain of command.
Identify excellence markers and critical success factors for each position on the leadership team. You can create competency models for each job or each level in the organization, but there should be commonality at the upper echelons of the company.
Then, agree on standards for high-potentials. Make the path unique to your organization, but consider these milestones: first line manager with direct reports, manager of other managers, business leader (CFO, VP, General Manager etc.), and enterprise leader (president, CEO).
Set the example by identifying your possible successor and challenge key leaders to identify two possible successors for their jobs
Identify the strengths and weaknesses for each individual you are considering for key positions. Assess “ready now” people, identify a timeline for “ready now” in the future, and examine each high-potential vis-à-vis this list.
Hold leaders accountable for developing their successors and reward leaders who tie these development metrics to performance appraisals and compensation.