4 Key Criteria To Measure In Succession Planning

According to the Association for Talent Development, only 35% of organizations have a formalized succession planning process. This can be risky, especially if individuals in mission-critical roles unexpectedly leave your organization. One of the most common reasons for not having a succession planning process is the lack of understanding of which criteria should be used in identifying potential candidates especially since there are so many to look into.

A complete strategy for succession planning involves many segments, from training and development to career planning and skills analysis. This is not a simple process, and it involves buy-in from every level of the organization.

However, when evaluating what criteria are important to look at when considering a candidate for succession planning, this blog post will look specifically at 4 key components and how to measure them. This process enables you to identify the internal candidates who have the greatest potential for certain roles within the organization.

1. Leadership

One specific personality trait that is often particularly useful for succession planning is leadership ability. While leadership ability can be challenging to develop and hone over time, psychometric assessments and leadership simulations can help highlight employees who have strong leadership potential. Leadership capabilities can help the organization plan for lateral, horizontal, and vertical succession plans, which is why leadership ability can be so valuable. Certain leadership traits are predictive of certain types of roles.

For example, if the organization is developing employees for management roles, it makes sense to evaluate candidates based on their assertiveness and cooperativeness. If you want to promote people into advanced business development roles or roles that involve complex deal-making, you’ll likely want to assess the candidates’ extroversion and goal orientation. See Succession Planning 2021 and Succession Planning Check List

One of the most significant benefits of measuring leadership is that it helps you identify employees who have a lot of potential for future roles but who you may have overlooked. Leadership capability should continuously be measured starting from pre-employment and along with the employee’s tenure because they provide a view on both the organization’s development effectiveness and the individual’s growth.

The more significant the growth of everyone, the better a company is at development and now has a stronger bench strength for immediate movement if needed. This leads to not only a more straightforward succession planning process but an easier talent management process overall. See Succession Planning 2021 and Succession Planning Check List

2. Agility

One of the most critical components for determining an employee’s potential is agility. Agility is represented in 2 parts;

1. Learning agility – a person’s willingness and interest to learn

2. Cognitive – a person’s ability to quickly unlearn and relearn something.

Continuous research has demonstrated that agility is one of the most influential factors in predicting job performance. Agility refers to a person’s ability to think critically, solve problems, and digest and apply new information.

A lot of this has to do with general brainpower, but it also has as much to do with learning ability and drive. Those with high agility scores can adapt and learn new roles faster, which makes them prime candidates for succession planning considerations. Even more interestingly cognitive aptitude is predictive of job performance across every job level, from entry-level to C-suite.

A combination of cognitive and behavioural assessments can evaluate a person’s agility and provide a reliable prediction of how well they will take on a new role.

Leadership in Succession Planning
Leadership helps you identify employees who have a lot of potential for future roles but who you may have overlooked

3. Cultural Fit

When an employee’s personal and professional values and beliefs align with and complement those of the company they work for, we speak of organizational – or culture – fit. As such, it’s important to establish what exactly defines a fit. And that starts with determining the organization’s values, norms, and vision. Once an organization has its culture put into a framework, it is important to gauge how the employee’s fit this framework.


There are 3 key reasons why culture fit is important when considering candidates for succession plans.

A. Culture fit influences employee retention

Employees who aren’t a good culture fit are more likely to leave. Considering how costly employee turnover can be for businesses of any size, taking into account an employee’s cultural alignment to your culture framework can save you the trouble of promoting someone only for them to leave.

B. Culture fit impact employee engagement

A good culture fit between the employee and the organization leads the employee to be more engaged and generally more likely to perform well. Aside from tangible activities that HR teams use to keep employees engaged and motivated, culture is the intangible nuances of the company that can either motivate or drives away employees.

C. Culture fit is a business investment

A Columbia Business School survey of 1,400 North American CEOs and CFOs indicates that 90% of the participants “indicated a strong belief that the quality of a company’s culture is inextricably linked with its financial success as well as its perceived ‘value’ in the world.” Therefore, investing in people that have a strong cultural fit is investing in the business.

4.Functional Expertise

Functional expertise is the technical skills employees need to be able to perform their job. When considering functional expertise in succession planning, it is important to measure not only the current performance of the employees but also the potential they must perform additional tasks required should they be moved. Functional expertise can be measured in a few ways:

Functional Expertise Succession planning

These 4 criteria help ensure that the right candidate is selected using a holistic and fair set of measurements. For organizations that are large or find it difficult to consolidate and combine these data points during decision-making, it is advisable to onboard a platform that can help with succession planning.


Page Contents

Comments are closed.