apple Introduction

Introduction and Module Overview


In 2008, Literacy Link South Centralreceived funding from the Ontario Government under Employment Ontario and developed an extremely popular resource titled, Succession Planning for Literacy and Basic Skills Agencies and Networks. This resource is a tool kit with a wealth of tools for agencies to use as they consider the future human resource requirements of their agency. This resource was originally published in June 2009 and was updated in 2011.

In December 2010, Literacy Link South Central received project funding from the Ontario Government under Employment Ontario to update itsSuccession Planning Guide and post it to Community Literacy of Ontario’s self-study training website, Literacy Basics.

Community Literacy of Ontario is very pleased to have worked in partnership with Literacy Link South Central to adapt Succession Planning for Literacy and Basic Skills Agencies and Networks to an online module on our Literacy Basics Training Website. Whenever possible, the original tools have been incorporated directly into this module. To access the original tool kit you can visit,

Let the Succession Planning begin!

Succession Planning

As Executive Directors or Managers of Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) agencies consider retirement, the issue of succession planning becomes increasingly important. Being proactive by implementing a succession plan will allow even very small LBS agencies to continue to serve learners through a thoughtfully pre-considered replacement of one or more staff members that may result due to retirement, transition or unforeseen circumstances.

By 2025, more than 20 per cent of the population will be over age 65, double the proportion in 1980. There are currently five working-age Canadians for every person over 65. In two decades, that ratio will have dropped to only 3:1. That growing imbalance is only made worse by the fact that, even as Canadians live longer, they are retiring earlier: the average retirement age has dropped from 64.9 in 1976 to 61.4 in 2005. (March 2006- Conference Board of Canada)

In a 2008, Literacy Link South Central conducted a needs assessment survey with more than 20 of Ontario’s community-based, school board, and college Literacy and Basic Skills agencies:

  • 35% of the programs had started to implement a succession planning process
  • 25% of the programs had an emergency succession plan in place
  • 29% of the programs had succession planning as a topic on their board agenda
  • 52% of the full-time Executive Directors/Executive Co-ordinators were “baby boomers” (defined as being born between 1947 and 1959)
  • 53% of the agencies had experienced a staff transition recently and of that number 73% were categorized as “unplanned”
  • 34% of the agencies had Executive Directors/Executive Co-ordinators planning on retiring or leaving in the next 3-5 years

A careful and considered plan of action ensures the least possible disruption to the replaced staff person’s responsibilities and therefore the organization’s effectiveness. A succession plan clearly sets out the factors to be taken into account and the process to be followed in relation to retaining or replacing a current staff person.

To start the succession planning process, it is vital that both the Board of Directors and the senior staff at your agency are ready to commit the time and resources it will take to develop and implement solid emergency plans and long-term succession plans.

  • All agency staff need to be aware of the implementation process and be afforded the opportunity for input into the process.
  • Staff must understand that the underlying premise behind succession planning is to secure the future of the organization; not to replace current staff.
  • Having an organizational strategic plan in place can support the succession planning process.

What Is a “Succession Planning” Approach?

  • Focus is on the development of skills and knowledge for the longer term.
  • Plans include developing skills and knowledge needed for key positions/areas.
  • Plans are linked to building proficiencies and skills for current and future organizational needs.
  • A systematic process is used to assess candidates based on feedback from multiple perspectives and sources of information.
  • Processes are put in place to integrate succession planning with other Human Resources activities.
  • Plans look three to five years in the future.
  • Plans involve actions that take many months to complete.

Objectives of Succession Planning

  • Ensure the continuity of growth and leadership in critical positions.
  • Retain and develop intellectual capital to support future growth.
  • Encourage and motivate high potential employees to aspire for advancement.

Effective Succession Planning

  • Matches the organization’s available human resources to its future needs.
  • Approaches succession decisions in a systematic way.
  • Is carried out continuously, avoiding crises and providing reinforcement for continuous performance improvement.

Step-by-Step Implementation Plan

The steps of an implementation plan can be considered in terms of months or any time frame that will work for your organization. Remember that it is better to have some components of a succession plan in place; as opposed to having none! The steps in this module have been arranged in sequence but you may find that some steps are more/less important or urgent for your organization. You may also find that your organization may have many of the steps or parts of the steps already in place. This Succession Planning Module will help you organize the information you have on hand, determine the gaps, and develop a succession plan that is tailored to your organization.

The Connection to Performance Management

Good succession planning is clearly tied to the performance management of an agency. The step-by-step implementation plan is built on the model of continuous improvement or performance management. You may want to visit the CIPMS module on CLO’s Literacy Basics website to further explore performance management. The following flow chart diagram, adapted from Community Literacy of Ontario’s, The ABC’s of CIPMS Manual, shows where the steps of succession planning fall within a continuous improvement model.


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