Skip to content

How to Choose Your Potential Successors

When you are doing succession planning, one of the steps is to choose individuals who could be potential successors. But how do you know who those individuals are? And should those people know that they are going to be a potential successor? Keep reading or watch the video above to find out how to choose your potential successors!

Picking Your Potential Successors

When trying to select your potential successors, there are really two ways to choose someone.

  1. The person can self-identify. For example, if someone has expressed interest in becoming a CEO (or any position) in the future, either at your organization or elsewhere, maybe they would be a good potential successor to add to the succession plan. 
  2. You identify people yourself who you believe have high potential. These are people who have not outwardly expressed their interest in becoming CEO (or whichever position you’re planning for), but you believe they would be good at the job.

Remember, people listed as a potential successor will be developed so they can be the best that they can be for the position. 

Communication Is Key

Now that you’ve selected your potential successors for the position, should you communicate that they are a potential successor to them? Absolutely!!! They need to know. In fact, a major element of the succession plan is creating a development plan for your potential successors. Therefore, they will need to know in order to be developed for the position. One thing you should not do is give them a promise or a guarantee! Communicate to them that they are a potential successor and that you are just developing them for the position because they have high potential or because they were interested in the position. Too many times people think that they are guaranteed the position when they are named as a potential successor. However, if you communicate clearly that should eliminate any confusion. 

Succession Planning Can Be Tricky

When naming potential successors there are a couple of things that can happen that can cause issues. 

  1. Some people may feel like they are owed the position. Maybe they have been at the organization for a long time, and they feel that they have put in their time and they are “next in line” for the position. Make sure that you are communicating that the position does not depend on longevity at the organization.
  2. People may feel pressure to apply for the position after being named a potential successor. This can happen even if they don’t really want the position. 

What You Can Do

  1. Create a formal succession plan for all of your key positions at your organization. 
  2. Identify your key potential successors for those positions. Remember there are two main ways for you to select a potential successor. They can either self-identify or you can identify who they might be based on high potentials.
  3. Create a development plan and develop your potential successors. Ensure that you’re putting a plan together for them to develop so that they are ready in the future when you might leave the organization.
  4. Remember to not promise or guarantee them the position. 

If you would like to know how ready your organization is for management turnover, we have created a free quiz so you can find out! Learn about your organization’s turnover preparedness, and receive a personalized report with recommendations on succession planning! Take the free quiz below!

Interested in learning how SUCCESSIONapp’s web-based tool can help you create a foolproof plan for your future? Request a demo now to learn more about the software!