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Succession Planning Tools & Templates

Free succession planning templates library.

To complement our  Succession Planning Services , we have developed a library of free succession planning templates and tools that will support your organization’s initiatives. For a complete printable version of all of our succession planning templates and to learn more about our  succession planning process , download SIGMA’s Succession Planning Guide below.

Succession Planning Guide

SIGMA’s Succession Planning Guide includes all of our templates in chronological order, as well as instructions and examples to guide you through SIGMA’s six-step succession planning process.

Succession Planning Template

What is a Succession Planning Template?

A succession planning template is a tool that can be used to help move a business along each stage of the succession planning process. Each of our templates provides checklist items, forms, and development plans to propel your business’s succession planning efforts further.  Browse our library of templates below to get started.

Succession Planning Templates

Critical Roles Identification Questionnaire

business succession planning template

The Critical Roles Identification Questionnaire is a succession planning template that will help you to identify those key roles that your organization should target in your succession program.

Success Profile Template

business succession planning template

The Success Profile Template is a succession planning worksheet designed to describe the talent needed for success in a key role.

Succession Nomination Survey Template

business succession planning template

The Succession Nomination Survey is a simple succession planning tool that can be used to identify which candidates to consider for the critical roles you identified in phase one.

Succession Bench Template

business succession planning template

The Succession Bench Template is used to evaluate the overall readiness of your succession candidates for a role.

Candidate Succession Profile Template

business succession planning template

The Candidate Succession Profile Template is designed to identify gaps between the requirements for a role and the potential candidate being developed for that key leadership position.

Individual Development Plan Template

business succession planning template

The Individual Development Plan is a two-part worksheet that outlines a succession candidate’s goals, action plans, and milestones for their growth and development.

Talent Progress Scorecard Template

business succession planning template

The Talent Progress Scorecard Template allows you to review the outcomes of your business succession plan across several important indicators.

business succession planning template

Our succession planning guide will walk you through what is required at each stage of the succession process along with some helpful tips to get you started.

Succession Planning Checklist

business succession planning template

The succession planning checklist is a quick measure of the maturity level of your succession plan and what areas need to be improved.

Succession Planning vs Replacement Hiring Checklist

business succession planning template

The succession planning vs replacement hiring checklist will help you identify if your organization is engaging in strategic long-term planning or settling for a quick fix.

Developing a Succession Plan that Supports Diversity

In this guide, we discuss the importance of diversity, how building diversity can benefit your team, and how you can use succession planning to create a leadership development program that supports diversity.

Download All Succession Planning Templates

If you would like a copy of all of our succession planning templates, download SIGMA’s comprehensive Succession Planning Guide. This free guide includes each of our templates in chronological order, as well as instructions and examples to guide you through SIGMA’s six-step succession planning process . 

Video Transcription

Our succession planning template available in this free download will walk you through what is required at each stage of the succession process, along with some really helpful tips to get you started. Inside you’ll find functional templates and tools to help you along every stage of your succession planning process, including measuring the maturity of your current process, determining where to focus limited resources, defining what is required for success at each role, identifying those succession candidates, building and measuring your talent bench, documenting development needs, tracking progress and identifying those really important development opportunities, and finally, measuring and communicating the success of your process which we think is really the most important part of the processes, is closing that loop. Hopefully this template helps you develop and get started on your succession planning process. If you need help getting started, take a moment to check out our “Succession Planning Launch Series” which offers a simple and cost-effective way to build a robust process and ensure your organization’s leadership is positioned for success and prepared for the unknown. Contact us to learn more about our Succession Planning Launch Series that delivers a custom succession plan in just 30 days, while requiring less than eight hours, essentially two half-day sessions, from your leadership team.

Browse Templates by Process

Identifying critical roles.

Determine which roles your organization should target through its succession program.

Identify critical roles for succession planning


Describe the talent composition required for each critical role today and in the future.

Build success profiles for talent development


Choose candidates for each critical role through a nomination survey.

Nominate succession candidates


Summarize each candidate’s talent profile and identify gaps to target through development.

Assessing succession planning needs


Prepare development plans for candidates and track their development activities.

Measure Progress


Measure the impact of your succession plan.

Measuring Progress

Need Help Getting Started?

SIGMA’s  Succession Planning Launch  is an efficient and affordable solution designed to establish a strong succession planning process and fortify leadership for optimal performance, even in unpredictable circumstances. Contact our team today to learn how we can deliver a full-year, custom succession plan in just two half-day workshops.

Succession Planning Template FAQs

What is a succession planning template.

A succession planning template can be a process or a tool. As a process, a succession planning template outlines the steps an organization can follow to build a strong succession plan. SIGMA uses a six-step process, which is unique because it not only helps leaders create a plan, but it also helps organizations establish an ongoing talent development program. This ensures that the succession plan will be sustainable over time, and replicable as new employees join the talent pool.     As a tool, succession planning templates may consist of checklists, forms, development plans, etc. SIGMA’s templates are built to correspond to a particular step in the succession planning process. For access to all of our templates in chronological order, d ownload SIGMA’s free Succession Planning Guide. The guide walks you through our six-step succession planning process AND includes all the templates you’ll need along the way .

Why use a succession planning template?

SIGMA’s succession planning templates provide a structured approach to identifying and developing future leaders, ensuring a smooth transition during leadership changes. They can also help organizations save time, provide consistency, and help align  talent development with strategic goals.

Can these succession templates be used for any industry?

Yes, SIGMA’s succession planning templates can be adapted for use in various industries. While the specific terminology and requirements may vary, the underlying principles of identifying and developing talent for leadership roles remain relevant across different sectors.

Are these succession planning templates suitable for organizations of all sizes?

Yes, SIGMA’s succession planning templates can be beneficial for organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations. The templates can be scaled and adapted to meet the specific needs and resources of your organization.

Do these succession planning templates address both internal and external succession planning?

Yes, our succession planning templates address both internal succession (promoting from within) and external succession (bringing in talent from outside). The templates can be tailored to suit your organization’s specific needs in either scenario.

Glen Harrison, Succession Planning Consultant

Want to Learn More About our Succession Planning Methods?

Glen Harrison is a senior consultant who specializes in organization transformation and succession planning. He has worked with many Fortune 500 companies and government organizations in Canada and the United States. Glen has helped numerous clients build strong succession plans using SIGMA’s products and services to unlock their people potential. Contact Glen today and learn about how SIGMA can help you develop your leaders. We would love to hear from you!

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Easy-to-use succession planning template for any business

business succession planning template

A succession planning template is a great asset for future-proofing your organization. Even if the tides are in your favor right now, a sudden shift in leadership can create chaos within your company. Without a contingency plan for when managers leave their roles, replacing them with the right succession candidates can be a long and costly process.

But with a succession planning strategy, you can set your company up for future success. Foresight is key to a profitable business in the long term; knowing who can fill in when vacancies open in your company is an important asset.

In this article, you’ll learn how to use our simple succession planning template to line up potential candidates months or even years before the need arises. Let’s dive in.

Get the template

What is a succession planning template?

A succession planning template helps define key roles within your company and identify suitable replacements should they become vacant. Typically, the template will include any information that will help you find the ideal candidate to fill these positions.

Succession planning is the process of finding backups for key positions in case a manager or executive leaves. It’s about ensuring that if option A doesn’t pan out, there’s a backup plan in place. Any good template includes these core aspects of the succession planning process:

  •  A list of current business partners and potential replacements
  •  Key skills that each senior role requires
  •  Level of training and/or experience of the candidates
  •  Short-term and long-term cover for senior roles
  •  The amount of time it’d take to onboard a candidate for an existing position

The information you record within the succession plan will determine who is the right fit for each critical role in your company.

Why use a succession planning template?

Now more than ever, workers are resigning at alarming rates. A record number of Americans, around 4.53 million , stepped down from their jobs in 2021, leaving companies to pick up the pieces.

A succession planning template provides assurance that when roles in senior management open up in your company, you have a suitable replacement on hand. It’s a way to future-proof your company against everything from sudden dismissals or resignations to retirement and unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you line up potential candidates to fill a vacant role in the future, you protect your company and can build towards longevity. Businesses with a revolving door dynamic — those suffering from high employee turnover — can experience disastrous consequences. It takes a significant amount of time and resources to train recruits for entry-level positions, let alone for senior roles.

What’s more, you aren’t guaranteed better results when you look to external hires to bail you out of a tight spot.

Using a template and filling out a plan helps you fill any unforeseen vacancies with the perfect in-house candidates. You can save money on hiring costs and decrease the time you spend without a senior manager. It costs on average $4,425 and takes 36-42 days to fill a vacancy when you can’t source someone in-house.

Succession planning can also help boost worker engagement. The clear possibility of promotion incentivizes employees to stay on with the company and gives them something to look forward to.

Now that you understand the “why” behind succession planning templates, let’s explore how you can use them in your company.

What are some examples of succession planning templates?

While all succession planning has the same goal — replacing a vacant role — it doesn’t always follow the same timelines or methods. Let’s take a look at 3 different use cases and templates.

1. Succession planning for soon-to-be-vacant roles

You can use a succession plan template to identify suitable replacements for soon-to-be-retired employees in key positions. With a table like the one below, you can not only plan for the moment the employee retires but also for the immediate future.

screenshot of succession plan for retirees

( Image Source )

While a long-term plan is necessary, you also have to think on your feet in case something goes wrong in the short term. With this template, you can determine whether you have someone in-house that can step into the role right now, 6-12 months on, or in a year or more. That way, it won’t be an issue if your ideal candidate for the position eludes you, as you’ll have temporary cover lined up.

2. Succession planning worksheet to identify critical roles

You can use a critical role identification questionnaire to figure out which roles are pivotal to your business’ success. Using a simple rating system, you can assign a level of priority to each role, letting you know which gaps you would need to plug first to keep the company running smoothly.

screenshot of questionnaire detailing skills for critical roles

3. Succession planning for identifying strong candidates

Use a candidate profile table to determine key skills needed for the critical roles in your company, as well as preferred experience level.

You can draw upon this information when you create your succession plan for each senior role. It’s a lot easier to find suitable in-house candidates that can take the reigns from those currently occupying critical roles when you already have a list of potential candidates and their strengths.

Candidate profile template screenshot

Want the best of all 3 worlds? We have a solution for you:’s succession planning template

The succession planning template includes critical role analysis, top candidate tables, and an overview of soon-to-be-vacant roles. Plus, you can take advantage of a fully customizable Work OS , not just dry spreadsheet software. A Work OS is a platform that houses all the tools you need to get work done — task boards, automated workflows, conditional notifications, high-level project planning, real-time dashboards for your management, and more's succession planning chart view screenshot

You can easily create reports to help convince executives that a specific candidate is the right match. You can even use the automation tools and resources to set reminders to discuss your succession planning strategy with your peers.

Personal data security is a priority for, and sensitive information is only accessible to those who are granted access. As a result, only those involved in the business succession plan will know which candidates are in consideration and for what roles.

Looking for more ways to track, store, and organize your employee growth information? We have a couple of additional templates that may help.

More related templates from

Individual development plan template.

Individual development plans are often coupled with action plans and inspire employee productivity and professional growth.

With this plan, you can get your employees up to speed on best practices within your company, so you don’t have to address common issues as they arise.

This template can also help you streamline onboarding and performance management processes and provide employees with actionable advice they can use to raise their stock and potentially work towards promotion.

The individual development plan can include the following elements:

  •  Professional goals
  •  Development opportunities
  •  Skills and experience competency assessment

Action plan template

An action plan template is self-explanatory: it details any actions you should take to accomplish a goal or complete a work-related project.

With an action plan, you can break a large project down into bite-size tasks for employees. Then, all you have to do is delegate the tasks to the relevant teams. That simplifies the process and ensures every employee knows what they need to do next, reducing dead time.

Here’s what you’ll need to include in your action plan template:

  •  A clear goal or objective
  •  Tasks to make progress towards the goal
  •  Individuals responsible for each task
  •  A timeline for completion of each task and the overall project
  •  Key metrics to assess performance
  •  A list of any resources that are necessary to get the job done

FAQs about succession planning templates

How do you write a succession plan.

The first step to creating a succession plan is outlining roles that contribute to the company’s ongoing success. Once you’ve done that, you can draw up a list of potential in-house replacements according to whether they meet your criteria for what will make them successful.

Then you’ll want to evaluate each candidate, comparing their skills and experience level to what you expect in the senior roles. Finally, you can identify training that can fill gaps in a candidate’s knowledge and skill levels if necessary to get them up to speed with the role.

Draw from the leadership team’s experience to find out which roles are pivotal to the company’s progress, as this will help you build a clear picture of what the perfect successor looks like.

Which model is most commonly used in succession planning?

The nine box grid succession planning model is very common in succession planning. Nine box succession planning is based on the idea that you can assess a candidate’s potential for various roles using a grid.

The grid, which has nine boxes, categorizes candidates according to their suitability for a role. You divide up information into the following brackets:

  • High potential
  • Medium potential
  • Low potential's succession planning timeline view screenshot

You then identify what mediocre to outstanding performance looks like in each of those cases, so you have a complete picture of what a candidate needs to slide into the role and perform the duties well.

What are the steps in succession planning?

Usually, you’ll come across 3 stages of succession planning: assessment, evaluation, and development.

Each stage represents a different part of the process of finding a suitable replacement for a senior management role in your company. Your plan should reflect what key skills a candidate would need to take on the position and perform well in it.

  • Assessment: Draw up a list of potential candidates to replace current senior roles in the company, and identify their key skills and experience levels. Determine what your candidates need to be able to do to fill the shoes of these roles.
  • Evaluation: Shortlist your candidates according to the criteria you’ve outlined for success in each critical role.
  • Development: What development activities are necessary to get any prospective candidates up to speed and ready to fulfill the duties of the role you’ve identified?

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business succession planning template

Succession planning template

Implement an effective talent management strategy with our succession planning template pack, use our comprehensive succession planning template to identify critical roles and high potential employees.

  • Develop a comprehensive plan using our succession planning template
  • Identify critical roles and employees who can fill them
  • Get a clear view of all your succession candidates
  • Plan for every possibility with our detailed worksheets

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of running a business.

Every company should have a succession plan in place to ensure that critical roles are filled in the event of an unexpected departure.

But creating a succession plan can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start.

That’s where we come in. We offer a comprehensive set of free templates that make succession planning simple and straightforward.

Succession planning is a process that businesses undertake to identify high potential employees in their existing workforce.

A successful succession plan then continues to develop these employees, improving leadership skills and key competencies to future proof their workforce.

Approaches to succession planning

A succession plan is a HR process that falls under talent management. There are two main approaches to succession planning that focus on finding expertise in house for potential future vacancies and leadership positions.

Talent development approach

This approach to a succession plan process starts by analysing individual employees and their current key skills and competencies.

It considers their potential within the framework of your organizational chart, and addresses the development path they need to follow to move into leadership roles.

Succession planning approach

This approach to a succession plan process starts by identifying critical roles within your leadership team and wider company.

It evaluates how each critical role impacts the company’s ability to grow, then assesses a business succession plan to fill these roles in case of unexpected leadership losses.

Benefits of succession planning

Regardless of your motivations behind succession planning, implementing an effective process is likely to create a positive impact on employee retention and business operations.

Succession planning is a critical component of organisational success, as it helps to ensure that there is a pipeline of talent ready to take on leadership roles when needed.

When done well, succession planning can help to create a culture of excellence within an organisation that attracts and retains top talent.

How a succession plan affects employee experience

A traditional succession plan focused around competencies. It enabled HR leaders to select the right people for leadership positions and create careers based on competency level

With the emergence of cloud based HR operations software, business requirements shifted. Now, HR leaders want to include employee engagement, experience and diversity included in their HR software.

This means that an effective succession plan should now focus on the employee’s experience, factoring in their lives, jobs and productivity.

What is included in a succession plan?

Succession planning typically includes processes such as development, succession candidate identification and succession candidate assessment and development.

Succession plans may also include provisions for Awards, Recognition and Renewal programs to encourage individuals to stay with the organization and develop their skills.

Succession planning process: requirements for success

Our succession planning template outlines key areas to focus on for success. However, how can you be sure that any succession plan that you implement will be effective?

In our guide, we’ve included the most important factors for success that you need to consider.

These include:

  • Leadership is invested in a succession plan process
  • Employees are aware of your succession plan strategy

Succession planning template structure

An effective succession planning process is broken down into different stages. Carrying it out manually can sometimes be a tricky task, so our succession planning template is divided into seven interlinked worksheets.

Completing each of these worksheets will give you a rounded view of your succession candidates. It’ll help you to identify critical roles and discover the promising employees who you can develop to fill them.

The seven steps covered in our effective succession planning template are:

Identify key positions

Understanding which positions are critical to business growth is essential in all succession plans.

This succession planning worksheet enables you to identify which roles are critical to your organisation’s operational activities and strategic objectives.

The simple-to-use critical role score card enhances your knowledge of each department and their key positions. It helps you to rank roles based on:

  • Consequence
  • Internal talent
  • External opportunities

Identifying Critical Roles Scorecard

Business requirements of key roles

The second stage of our succession planning template helps you to understand what competencies and capabilities are required for each of the key positions you’ve highlighted.

Gathering information about each critical role from a wide range of sources and collating it into our planning template allows you to asses what is important now, and what development activities need to be implemented.

Understanding key roles and their competencies allows you to link your succession planning strategic plan to overarching business objectives.

Identify high-potential employees

Use the third of our succession planning templates to identify leadership candidates and high potential employees.

Our candidate consideration questionnaire enables you to determine who is interested in, and who has the potential, to fill key positions in your organisation.

This simple succession planning template helps you to create a succession planning process that involves employees in their own development opportunities, creating a high potential talent pool.

The candidate consideration questionnaire will help you to establish a set of measurable criteria that you can use to evaluate overall candidate readiness fairly and accurately.

Calculate readiness rating

Understanding the readiness rating of each of your high potential employees allows you to plan each succession process in advance.

Included in the worksheet is each potential candidate for a succession position, combined with their competency and readiness score.

Readiness rating is something that develops over time, so this stage of the succession planning template should be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis. For example, a department manager may show potential as a future C-suite executive, but may need to spend some time at director level first.

Create skills gaps profiles

There are numerous ways to assess employee development over time. We believe that the most objective and effective method is to use a variety of validated assessment methods, for example 360 appraisals .

However, it’s important to then measure this feedback across the board to truly understand the future potential of your entire workforce.

Using our candidate gaps profile template allows you to understand the success criteria for any position. It helps you understand the development path that any potential successors need to follow.

Included in this stage of our succession planning template are:

  • Employee skills
  • Employee competencies
  • Educational background
  • Readiness for succession
  • Development opportunities

Implement candidate development plans

Once you have an understanding of candidate readiness and skills gaps for any potential successor, it’s key to use this information to create informed development plans.

It’s important to involve each potential successor in this process, and agree measurable deliverables that can be tracked over time.

This worksheet also outlines the methods that you and your employee will use to achieve the agreed deliverables. For example, this could include coaching, mentoring or educational training.

Using our succession planning template to understand employee development helps you to create action plans that outline actions in three stages:

  • 3 to 6 months
  • 6 to 12 months

Measure succession planning effectiveness

Of course, there needs to be a way to assess how effective your succession planning improvements are. We’ve included an effectiveness evaluation worksheet in our succession planning template to help you measure the key points of an effective process.

It’s critical that your succession planning process aligns with overall business operations and objectives, which means that you need to choose evaluation metrics that reflect company goals.

These can include quantitative measures, such as turnover rates, or qualitative measures, such as engagement levels. Our worksheet highlights some of the most common succession planning measurement metrics, with space to add your own business-specific values.

Download our free succession planning template below:

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