talent managementPrioritizing our efforts helps us to make decisions and allocate resources in all that we do.  Identifying critical positions or prioritizing is an important part of the succession planning process. It allows organizations to target talent investments to ensure leadership continuity and mitigate risk from leadership attrition. Prioritizing becomes even more important during times of economic turbulence and uncertainty.

Determining which positions are the most critical as part of succession planning can be challenging.  We won’t find a “standard list” of positions on the internet. Every organization must identify these vital roles in the context of many factors, including market conditions and organizational strategy.  For example, companies who require technical innovation to execute their strategy might determine that specific engineering roles are critical while other companies would identify specific marketing roles at most critical.

What factors should be considered?

succession planning processOrganizations should consider a mix of internal and external factors. Human Resources should work with senior leaders to consider the following questions when prioritizing positions for succession planning:


  • What is the level of risk to the enterprise if the position is left vacant for an extended period?
  • To what extent does the position:
    • Drive revenue and impact bottom-line financial results?
    • Involve developing strategy, designing new products, or creating growth opportunities for the organization?
    • Require broad decision making authority?
    • Involve relationships with external customers and key stakeholders?
    • Influence the performance of or manage other critical positions?


  • What is the current market value of the position? How has the value changed over time?
  • How is the position valued by other companies?
  • What is the degree of competition for qualified candidates for this position in the marketplace?
  • To what extent does the position require the use of rare/unique capabilities and skill sets?

Once identified, organizations can work to ensure successors are identified for critical positions while at the same time build broader talent pools to pull from for other positions as they evolve or become vacant. Human Resource software and technology solutions can be a big help in identifying and tracking critical positions, as well as managing the development of successors and talent pools to assume future leadership roles.

How is your company identifying critical positions in succession planning? Please share  your thoughts and comments.

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