Career Development And Succession Planning

In today(s) economy, attracting, developing and retaining employee talent is a core capability for any successful organization. Two key and interrelated areas in which leading organizations are paying increasing attention are career development and succession planning. Talent management and career transition planning need to be a priority in any organization. 

Career Development

Organizations who wants to effectively manage the career expectations and progression of their employees are working in an environment radically different from even just a few years ago. Current career planning challenges include:

  • operating in a hyper-competitive business environment in which resources are scarce
  • attracting and retaining highly skilled and capable people within an aging workforce
  • factoring in a greater proportion of contract and casual employees with no long term allegiance to the organization
  • engaging the talents, motivations and creativities of people whilst aligning to business requirements
  • managing employee expectations in an environment in which there are fewer opportunities for promotion
  • supporting marginal performers in increasing their discretionary effort and contribution to the role
  • encouraging poor performers to move on in a respectful way

You can tell whether your organization is getting a handle on competing on the new playing field. In your organization, do:

  • the people you want to stay, leave?
  • the people you want to leave, stay?
  • the people who stay, leave their talents and creativities at home?

For businesses that are struggling with employee career transitions, the costs include:

  • spiraling recruitment and selection, induction and training expenditure
  • reduced employee morale and productivity
  • wrong levels of turnover
  • unnecessary redundancy payments

Organizations that put in place a career development structure with appropriate career planning and the right career development tools will be the winners in this new workforce landscape. We encourage you to explore the career development resources and tools so that you can put your organization at the front of the pack.

Career transition essentials

  • setting up a career development structure
  • career development tool for use in organizations
  • developing a career development plan
  • using a SWOT analysis for career change planning
  • researching the job market

Succession Planning

When key leadership roles in your organization become available, how ready are your future leaders to step up to the challenge? World-class organizations know the importance of having top talent lined up and ready to go. The many benefits of effective talent management convey to both the organization and to the individual as do the risks of failing to plan for your organization’s leadership succession.

Preparing your employees for future leadership roles consists of two activities: planning and development.

Planning includes the following activities:

  • identifying employees who show potential for assuming greater responsibility
  • assessing those individuals against some kind of leadership model to understand their strengths and development needs
  • developing your leadership model – or set of models – that describe the elements of leadership critical to your organization
  • identifying the kinds of roles that will need to be filled
  • ensuring a flow of succession opportunities – even if it means removing current leaders that are performing adequately in their role

Developing future leaders goes beyond the classroom. In fact, successful leaders cite other factors besides training when asked to describe their best source of preparation:

  • stretch experiences
  • a formative mentor
  • dealing with hardship and conflict

A progressive view of leadership development will emphasize all of these strategies over a training-heavy approach. However, often an element of divine intervention  by a development minded CEO is needed to execute some of the riskier strategies:

  • putting an employee in charge of key negotiations with a competitor, vendor, or union
  • tapping an employee to turn around a struggling division or function
  • tasking an employee to build out a new capability, develop a new product, or enter a new market

The benefits of a thorough approach to succession management accrue to the organization as well as the individual. Organizations achieve the primary goal of having employees ready to step into leadership roles. And they avoid much of the risk linked to bringing too many outsiders into key, high-level positions.

However, not to be undervalued is the benefit felt by employees even before their opportunity emerges. These employees, who are often star performers as middle managers or even individual contributors, can too easily be attracted away by offers from other organizations. You have to leave to get ahead is commonly heard in organizations without a capable approach to developing and promoting future leaders. Organizations that prepare their aspiring leaders for higher levels of responsibility replace this talk with higher levels of employee engagement, retention and hope. And they then follow through with those appointments.
SWOT Analysis

You may be a manager or human resource professional assisting employees with their career management. Or you may be looking for career change to advance your own career. Either way, the SWOT analysis is an excellent tool for getting an accurate and informed view of where the person is right now. It should be used before making any decisions about future career choice.

The SWOT analysis shown below asks the person to consider the following factors:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses or development needs?
    What opportunities for career development currently exist in your organization?
  • What threats are you facing?

Use the following guide to support the person in thinking about the types of areas they should explore in their personal SWOT analysis. The analysis will help in clarifying career choices, such as whether to move into another role within the current organization or to exit the organization.


List what you consider to be your most marketable skills.

  • How can your skills transfer to other roles in your organization, other functional areas, and other industries?
  • What are your best leadership qualities? 


  • What is the level of demand for the skill-sets that you possess?
  • What roles are in the planning stage for advertising?
  • What development strategies could you adopt to increase your chances of landing a role?


  • What gaps in capability do you perceive you have for the role you aspire for?
  • What would others say are your blind spots?
  • How might your blind spots derail your potential? 


  • Who in the organization will be a resistance or block to you moving into this role?
  • What is the level of competition for this role?
  • Have you resigned in difficult circumstances? How will you explain this in your next interview? 

When completing the SWOT analysis, make sure the person takes into consideration:

  • the results of their most recent performance review discussions with their manager
  • notes from their personal diary and journal
  • comments that other people working with the person make about them

Career Enrichment Tool Kit

  • Career management is ultimately a joint responsibility between employer and employee. Business is changing so rapidly and the level of competition is intensifying to the extent that the idea that an employer could map out a long-term career path for each employee with exact step-by-step roles is clearly not realistic. Things never stay constant enough for this to happen.
  • The employer is an enabler when it comes to career management. The role of the employer in supporting career development is to provide guidance and tools to help identify the right career direction for each employee.
  • This tool kit is a resource that provides a structure for each employee to get clear on what they want in their career. And then to give them the confidence, knowledge and skills to take appropriate action. In addition, this resource will support your employees in mapping out the specific career development needs that they have as well as in planning and executing their learning strategies. Suitable for use in organizations wanting a career transition resource and by individuals seeking their next career change.

What will you or your employees achieve in using this Tool Kit?

  • understand their career development needs in terms of the types of career anchors, job roles, working environments and managers that will suit them best
  • capitalize on what they have to offer in terms of their skills and achievements, motivations, values and personal qualities
  • explore the various options that are available to them for enriching their career and experience of work
  • write a career development plan that lays the groundwork for their future actions
  • ensure that their resume is the best reflection of their package of skills and talents and positions them for their desired next job role
  • learn about internal networking, submitting job applications and making direct approaches to people about potential career opportunities
  • perform well in job interviews by preparing thoroughly and knowing how to handle difficult questions, and
  • ongoing career management through managing performance expectations and perceptions, mentoring and coaching and continuing professional development