Easy-to-Use Succession Planning Template

Published December 27, 2021
Business people discussing in board room

What would happen if a top leader at your company decided to quit tomorrow? Would there be an internal candidate who is prepared and ready to step up into that role? If your company uses a succession planning template as part of its overall succession planning strategy, it would be possible to answer that question right away. Incorporate the free template provided here into your company's succession planning efforts. Doing so will help you paint a clear picture of how prepared your organization is (or is not!) for changes in high-level leadership roles.

Simple Succession Planning Template

Are you not sure whether you have anyone prepared and ready to step up if a top leader leaves? Are you wondering how long it will take to get an internal candidate ready? Use the basic succession planning template below as a tool to map out the answer to these questions. Simply click the image and the template will open as an editable PDF that you can customize, save, update and print. Click anywhere in the document to begin making changes. Use this guide to printables for help with the document, if needed.

Note: If the printable PDF form above doesn't provide enough flexibility for your needs, consider setting up a spreadsheet that uses the same column and row labels, then create a separate tab for each department or team.

How to Use the Succession Planning Template

Set up a succession planning template for each team in your organization. The template above is structured to work for a typical executive team in a small to mid-size business, though you can adapt it in whatever way your organization needs.

  • Include each high-level leader, whether you think they are likely to leave or not. You can mark N/A if the person has given no indication of intending to leave.
  • When estimating timeframes that a replacement might be needed for each incumbent, consider things like promotion potential, transfer likelihood, and individual plans for retirement.
  • Thoughtfully review your overall succession plan, along with employee skill levels and leadership preparation when placing potential successors on the template.
  • Don't overestimate how prepared someone is to step up. Be realistic, so you'll have a good idea of what needs to be done to get people ready for advancement opportunities that may become available.
  • When the succession plan is complete, use that information to help inform individual employee development plans for the high potentials who are being prepared to step up to leadership roles.
  • Update your succession planning template at least quarterly, so you have close to real-time information to use when mapping out employee development and staffing plans.

Be Prepared for Any Possibility

Succession planning is an important aspect of human resource management. It benefits the company, as well as its leaders and employees. After all, before those who are already in leadership positions can be considered for further promotion, it's important to know that there is someone waiting in the wings prepared and ready to move into the important position that their promotion will leave vacant. Further, your top employees are more likely to stay if they see a path to advance within the company. When you use a template like the one provided here as part of your succession planning efforts, you'll know exactly where things stand with regard to being able to replace top leaders with high potential employees who are ready to step up.

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Easy-to-Use Succession Planning Template