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Measuring the Success of Succession Management Efforts

Measuring the Success of Succession Management Efforts


Measuring the Success of Succession Management Efforts


Dr. Nancy Zentis


How will you track the success of your succession planning program and evaluate the results? How will you define the challenges or issues associated with succession planning to determine opportunities for improvement?

OD consultants work with the client to identify measurable criteria and monitor and track how the Succession Planning (SP) program is working.  Identify what you will measure and design a survey or questions to collect the data to determine what is working and what needs improvement.  Include the potential successors and managers in feedback discussions, as well as other shareholders, to gain their input on the process and program outcomes.  Implement pre- and post-testing questionnaires to determine how effectively the succession planning program is working.  Questions should reflect all aspects of the program.

Evaluate the participant’s development plans, his or her potential to advance into a new position, and replacement opportunities.  Analyze the succession planning process to evaluate the cultural acceptance of the SP process and the system of accountability.  Make necessary recommendations for improvement and communicate changes.

Here are some suggestions on tracking activities to determine your outcomes:

Track Activity:


  • Are 360’s being conducted? Are they offered once or twice?
  • Are employees creating their development plans? Are managers involved?
  • Are people attending mandated and optional classes?
  • How many high-potentials have been identified at different levels?
  • How many positions have short-term and long-term successor pools identified?


Track Engagement:


  • Does the workforce value the development they are getting?
  • Do they feel like the organization cares about their careers?
  • What are intent-to-quit measures among high-potentials?


Track Subsequent Performance:


  • Improved performance
  • Improved goals
  • Improved leadership competencies
  • Percent of executive openings that are filled in-house
  • Recruiting fees for management jobs
  • Turnover (especially among high potentials)
  • Diversity among high potentials and/or among those being groomed for succession

Metrics to Measure Succession Planning Programs

Many best practice organizations use metrics to measure their succession planning programs.

These are workforce development related metrics used by small organizations that represent high importance and high use of utilization by small organizations (less than 20K FTEs).

Research suggests that organizations can use the following succession management metrics:

Quality of the program:

  • Manager satisfaction levels with the quality of talent pool candidates
  • Feedback on the quality of succession planning development activities and content delivered/offered to talent pool candidates
  • Satisfaction levels of HIPOs with meeting their developmental needs
  • Time to fill positions
  • Organization’s strategy/goals and talent capability alignment (Do we have the talent we need to achieve our strategies and goals?).


Return on Investment:

  • Return on Investment (ROI) /Impact
  • ROI of training succession candidate pool
  • ROI of development activities, non-training succession candidate pool

Level of Effectiveness:

  • Quality of succession talent pool candidates by “recruiting” channel
  • Level of performance of newly selected “succession management” hires
  • Speed at which management positions are filled
  • Feedback on the quality of Succession planning development activities and content delivered/offered to talent pool candidates
  • Satisfaction levels of HIPOs with meeting their developmental needs
  • Quality and quantity of managers developing leaders



  • Manager satisfaction with “new” hires
  • Manager satisfaction with the succession management selection process
  • Satisfaction of succession talent pool candidates with selection process and developmental opportunities



  • Percentage of HIPO employees at risk of leaving the organization
  • Percentage of targeted vacancies filled by talent pool candidates
  • Rate of successful internal promotions




  • Cost of external hires vs. internal hires
  • Turnover by employee segment


  • Bench Strength – # ready for movement
  • Retention of High Value People
  • Positions Filled by HIPO Individuals
  • Promotion Rates of HIPO Individuals
  • Average number of candidates for key positions
  • Average number of successors per key position
  • Average number of positions having no identified successors
  • Percentage of managers with replacement plans
  • Percentage of key positions filled according to pre-determined succession plans
  • Ratio of internal hires to external hires in key positions
  • Ability to fill the CEO position
  • Ability to fill senior VP positions
  • Ability to identify gaps in development
  • Quality of information regarding candidates

The best way to determine your Succession Planning metrics is to identify what you want to measure, why it’s important, how it ties to a business goal or strategy and whether there is a process in place to measure the criteria.  Select the metrics that support the overall goals of succession planning.  Ask: Is it understandable, doable, and important!

Dr. Nancy Zentis is the CEO of Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning.  She can be reached at info@instituteod.com.  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, v


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