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Part 1-Identify and Prioritize Leadership Positions

Part 1 brings together the findings from the workforce planning analysis accomplished in Phases 1 – 3 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model to strategically determine the department’s areas of highest succession risk within key leadership positions.


Using the findings from Phases 1 – 3 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model, determine which of your department’s critical leadership functions need to be addressed through succession planning strategies.


A written document identifying the prioritized high risk key leadership positions  to be addressed through succession planning at your department.

Steps to Accomplish the Deliverable

  1. Extract the high risk key leadership positions from your workforce planning analysis, performed in Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model, that could benefit from succession planning strategies.
  2. Identify gaps in succession planning strategies that are currently taking place within the department (if any), that address the high risk leadership positions extracted from the workforce planning analysis.
  3. Prioritize high risk leadership positions that currently lack effective succession planning strategies.  These remaining high risk leadership positions should be prioritized based on functions that most critically support your department’s mission. 

Tools to Assist with Steps

Detailed Information to Assist with Steps

Definition of Key Leadership Position

A key leadership position describes a position held by an employee who maintains the influence to maximize the efforts of others towards achieving a goal that is critical to the department’s mission. 

Definition of Succession Planning

Departments may choose to apply succession planning strategies to any variety of positions which would benefit from a succession planning approach. 

Succession planning is an approach which should be applied when a department wants to plan for leadership continuity.  For example, if a Career Executive Assignment (CEA) position has been identified as a key leadership position that supports a critical function, then feeder classifications reporting up to the CEA would be strong candidates for succession planning, as illustrated through the following procession of classifications: SSMII, would be developed to succeed → SSMIII, would be developed to succeed → CEA.   

Succession Planning Best Practices

Thoroughly analyze all pertinent workforce data to develop a data-driven basis for succession planning.  For detailed instruction on workforce data analysis refer to Phase 2 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model.

  • Gain executive leadership as well as division and program area buy-in by demonstrating the benefits of succession planning to their division/program area.
  • Anticipate and mitigate barriers to knowledge transfer, which are described in the Detailed Information section.
  • Identify and utilize leadership competencies for selecting and developing a talent pool.  For detailed instruction on developing competencies refer to the Detailed Information section in Phase 3 of the State of California Workforce Planning Model.
  • Identify and develop a talent pool early for long-term needs.
  • Ensure succession plans accomplish more than continuity of leadership.  In rapidly growing fields succession planning needs to provide for backfilling of leadership positions, as well as filling new positions serving multiple or cross-functional roles.
  • Drive a culture of continuous learning and development where employees are committed to their own self-development.
  • Ensure senior leaders are personally involved, and hold themselves accountable for growing leaders.
  • Communicate succession planning findings, be transparent and consider inclusion in the department’s strategic plan.
  • Link succession planning to strategic and workforce planning. 
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