Succession Planning in Retail

Academic Paper, 2017

13 Pages, Grade: 1.2




What is Succession Planning
Developing a Succession Plan
The Position
The Candidate
The process
The Review

Colleague Background
Duty Manager Position
The Process and Plan
Objective Setting
Acting Up
The Outcomes




This report seeks to understand the principles of succession planning and to apply those principles to implement a development plan for a colleague within a retail organisation.

Firstly, the report outlines what succession planning is by looking at relevant literature and how it is applied across various aspects of developing a plan. The second part of the report then seeks to apply the learnings to a live situation.

Finally, the report will conclude that succession planning in retail is imperative given the current employment environment.

What is Succession Planning

In order to understand succession planning it is important to first understand the wider context of Human Resource Management (HRM) and Human Resource Planning (HRP). HRM is centred around activities such as recruitment, selection, learning and development, communication and employee involvement, teamwork and performance management. (Beardwell, 2017) Although there is no universally definition of HRM, Boxall and Purcell have defined HRM as, the management of work and the management of people to do the work. (Boxall, 2011) HRP is a relatively specialised sub-discipline within HRM and is more concerned with looking ahead and using methodical approaches to understand the future labour requirements of an organisation. Ensuring that an organisation has the right people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time. (Taylor, 2014)

Succession Planning (SP) is part of the overall human resource plan and as set out by Taylor, is a focused activity that involves planning thoughtfully and in systematic fashion, for a time when people who hold senior or pivotal positions within a company leave or progress, ensuring that there is someone with the correct skill set ready to step up and fill the position. Taylor continues to emphasise that succession planning is about developing a new generation of potential leaders and providing them with the capacity to succeed into senior roles in several years’ time. (Taylor, 2014) Successful SP however is not just about replacement planning but having a comprehensive development system in place for employees. (Day, 2007)

There is no singular model for SP as there are many organisations of different sizes and each have different business needs. Taylor suggests that it would be possible to have succession plans in place for every position within an organisation, but this would be costly and there would be no need. (Taylor, 2014) The consensus is to identify the critical positions within an organisation and focus the level of skill, effort, and responsibility a job entails, together with working conditions. From this it is possible to see which positions within and organisation require a succession plan. These are typically highly skilled positions which exercise the most responsibility and operating in the most challenging environments. (Huselid, 2006) These jobs require considerable organisation, specific expertise and experience to be carried out effectively. (Murphy, 2009)

Developing a Succession Plan

The Position

First of all, an organisation must identify a position that will need a succession plan, these positions are usually managerial positions or positions of skilled expertise. When developing a SP it is important to think about the attributes that are required to do a good job in a senior role in the future. The priorities of an organisation will change over time as well as the landscape that an organisation operates in, what may be suitable now may not be in the future. (Taylor, 2014) Bechat argues that organisations need to plan for different future scenarios to ensure people are developed with what the future may bring in mind. (Bechat, 2008) This will require defining what the organisations strategy is for the future, which will in turn define the key attributes of the role. Huselid Et al, set out a second defining characteristic as the wide variability in the quality of the work already displayed by employees in the position. This is because variation in job performance represents upside potential and the aim may be to strengthen a level in the organisation in order that it may be more competitive. (Huselid, 2006)

The next step will be to do a job or position analysis, this is a process of analysing jobs and tasks and has three key steps. The first involves breaking the job down into parts. Secondly, the relationships between the parts is examined and compared with the correct principles of performance. Thirdly, the parts are restructured to form an improved job and learning requirements are specified. (Rothwell, 2010)

The Candidate

In some organisations everyone is in the succession pool and all colleagues are talented and the aim is to develop everyone at the same pace, however most organisations restrict their talent to a pool of high performers. Identifying colleagues who will become part of the succession planning process is usually done against two criteria, performance and potential. (Taylor, 2014) The simplest method of identifying talent to enter this process is using Odiorne’s typology. (Fig.1) This breaks down talent into four simple boxes and is easy to read.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 1. Odiorne’s Typology 1984. Source: (Taylor, 2014)

As you can see this categorizes talent and identifies those that should go forward as stars, it is important to keep updating this on a yearly basis as people change and jobs change, and this will dictate which box they are in. This classification of talent is done by the senior manager in conjunction with the line manager to identify those who are going forward in the succession plan.

The Process

Before continuing to develop the process, it is worth highlighting that the most common failing of modern development programmes for high-potentials does not lie in the selection stage, but in the rigorous execution of plans to develop the selected managers. It’s not so much that organisations fail to select talented people, but rather that they do not consistently offer those individuals what they need in to succeed. (Kovach, 2005) These plans require designated review time with full and complete feedback in order that the candidate understands how to develop. It is important that potentials have a full assessment to understand current strengths and weaknesses, but also predict where they are likely to excel or struggle in the future. The challenge in this is that strengths are a lot more apparent than weaknesses and a lot easier to address but these must be balanced in feedback. Not addressing weaknesses could lead to issues further down the line. (Kovach, 2005)

Development plans must be tailored to the individual and the position and be considerate to developing strengths and weaknesses. This will be built around a competency framework that outlines what is needed in order too execute the position correctly as previously discussed. In order to develop the skills candidates must be given the opportunity to develop by including them on project teams, asking them to lead work groups and moving them across the organisation when they are ready for new assignments. (Taylor, 2014) This will help develop experience and increase understanding of the business, combined with coaching and mentoring sessions along with relevant training will expand relevant knowledge. (Clutterbuck, 2005)

The Review

This stage is self-explanatory, but none the less it is as important as any other stage. It is necessary to conduct regular performance reviews with the candidate to ensure they are suited and developing at the correct pace. This review will be gauged against real targets and achievements with feedback being given on performance and behaviours. There will also be opportunity for the candidate to feedback any inadequacies or barriers that have prevented them achieving goals set, any agreed actions between the candidate and assessing manager must be completed. (Taylor, 2014)

With all these considerations this report will apply the learnings to develop a plan for a colleague in a live environment.


This report will now map out a targeted succession plan for a colleague looking to make the step from Team Leader to Duty manager within the context of the store operations team in SuperValu Rathborne. It is important to note that all objectives and measures of success are linked to the entire store team in order that everyone achieve the same outcomes. The linkage the whole way through the chain sets up the candidate to continuously progress the whole way through the business.


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Succession Planning in Retail
Dublin Institute of Technology
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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514 KB
succession, planning, retail
Quote paper
Derek McCloskey (Author), 2017, Succession Planning in Retail, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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