The most important element of a succession plan is the development plan. A development plan is a way to identify opportunities for your potential successors to grow. They can also develop the skills needed for their critical competencies. Unfortunately, the development plan is the element that is most often missing in succession plans that I look at. Today, you will learn how to choose what to focus on in a development plan, and even get some examples of activities that could be included in the plan. Keep reading or watch the video above to get all the information!

So, why is the development plan missing so often in a succession plan? People often say that it’s because it’s difficult to think of activities an individual can do to increase their success in a certain area. However, it’s incredibly important to have a development plan in your overall succession plan for two reasons. First, a development plan is a formal and active way of developing your potential successors for a future role. Second, it is a way of letting your potential successors know that they are important to the organization and that you want them to stay since you are developing them for the future position. So, how do you know what to focus on?

Here are some things to consider when creating a development plan for your potential successors.

  1. Take a look at where your potential successors have gaps in terms of the critical competencies that you have defined for that role.
  2. Take a look at the length of the runway. This basically means how long your potential successor has to develop before they are set to take the position. For example, if a position is set to open up 7-10 years in the future, the runway is really long so you would only select a few competencies and activities for that successor to work on at a time. If the position is set to open in 1-3 years on the other hand, then the runway is much shorter and you would have to select more competencies and more activities to develop those skills faster.
  3. Make sure you ask your potential successor what they think they should be working on in terms of developing their skill set for the position. Also, utilize your Human Resources department! They are a great resource in coming up with actions, experiences, and activities that would help develop the potential successors.

Here are some common examples of activities that executives may include in the development plans.

  • Take courses toward a higher degree.
  • Work with an executive coach. Many times people will work with executive coaches to develop their soft skills.
  • Take the lead on a large project from start to finish.
  • Develop strategic planning skills by taking the lead on a strategic planning topic.
  • Be mentored by someone within the organization who has some of the competencies that they are working on.

So here’s what you can do to make sure that you have a solid development plan created for all of your potential successors.

  • Ensure that you have defined your critical competencies for each of your key roles.
  • Assess each of the potential successors on each of the competencies and then figure out where their gaps are.
  • Create a development plan for each of your potential successors by coming up with activities and experiences for them to grow their skillset.
  • Make sure you are asking your potential successors what things they would like to work on and develop. Also, don’t forget about your HR department since they can help you think of some great ideas as well.

A development plan is an incredibly important aspect of a succession plan, but it is not the only aspect! Check out our blog post here to learn about the eight easy to follow steps to create the rest of your CEO succession plan!

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