Succession Management

It is estimated two-thirds of Federal executives are eligible to retire within the next five years.  If they all retire when they become eligible, there will be a large gap in our Federal leadership workforce.  Given the significance of these events, how can we continue to develop the leadership talent pool to effectively fill future vacancies? 

Succession management is the process of identifying those jobs considered to be at the core of the organization-- too critical to be left vacant or filled by any but the best qualified persons—and then creating a strategic plan to fill them with experienced and capable employees. Succession management is critical to mission success and creates an effective process for recognizing, developing, and retaining top leadership talent. It is important to note that strategic succession planning is not about talents the organization needs now; rather, it is projecting the talent, knowledge, skills and competencies needed for the future of an agency/organization.

In summary, succession management is a systematic approach for:

• Shaping the leadership culture.

• Building a leadership pipeline/talent pool to ensure leadership continuity.

• Developing potential successors whose strengths will best fit with the agency’s needs.

• Identifying the best candidates for categories of positions.

• Concentrating resources on the talent development process, yielding a greater Return on

   Investment (ROI).



Title 5, Section 412.101 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (5 U.S.C. 412.101) states:

“In consultation with the Office of Personnel Management, the head of each agency shall establish - (1) a comprehensive management succession program to provide training to employees to develop managers for the agency.”


Federal Government Tools and Resources

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)


Private Sector Tools and Resources

The Corporate Leadership Council (CLC)

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The way in which positions are filled can also play a vital role in change management and culture transition.  If an organization's culture is described as stagnant, safe, and lacking creativity, a strategic decision to consider may be to fill more leadership roles from outside the organization rather than from inside progression.  If an organization's leadership is perceived to be highly effective, motivational, thriving and customer focused, then the strategic decision may be to promote from within.  Both recruiting and development strategies would be developed to compliment the desired organizational culture. The list below depicts the breakdown of this structure:

  1. Accelerate development of candidates ready to move into leadership positions.
  2. Retain people in the leadership positions until candidates are considered ready to compete for those positions.
  3. Recruit individuals with technical and management experience to move immediately into the leadership positions.
  4. Reorganize functions and positions to meet the mission with the talent from the first three options.