Doris Sims

International Talent Review-Succession Consultant, Speaker and Author

Succession Consultant, LLC

HRCI Approved Provider of talent review meeting, succession planning and high potential training and consulting services.

Call Rates

Duration Price
30 minutes $125.00
60 minutes $250.00


succession planning talent management talent review meeting high potential identification leadership development


Doris works with organizations of all types around the world to implement or enhance talent management and succession planning strategies, tools, processes and metrics.  Doris is the author of The Talent Review Meeting Facilitator's Guide, The 30-Minute Guide to Talent and Succession Management, Building Tomorrow's Talent, and Creative Onboarding Programs.

Doris provides practical training workshops to prepare the HR team for the talent-succession strategy process, and consulting services to assist companies with their talent planning, procedures and results.


Indiana State University

Master's Degree




Senior Professional in Human Resources

Human Resources Certification Institute
December 2001

Approved Provider

HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute
November 2013 - present


HRBok Model Project Team Member 2015

HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute)
January 2015 - June 2015

3/29/2016 5:06:12 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

This is a great question that I love to answer - talent management and succession planning is not only appropriate for companies of ALL shapes and sizes, if anything it is MORE important in a small company.  Why is this?  Well, in a small company, one employee may wear many "hats" and so if you lose that employee, you have often lost many competencies all at once.  Each employee in a small company is so valuable and there is no room for low performance.  It is even more important in a small company to retain knowledge, to retain procedures, to retain client data, etc. if an employee decides to leave an organization.  

Family run businesses, which are sometimes smaller organizations, need to clearly use formal and objective succession planning tools, to reduce the emotional that everyone experiences in succession planning, but which is even more of an issue in family succession planning.  

Every organization, whether profit or non-profit, whether government or non-government, whether private or public, whether global or domestic, whether large or small - should have a talent benchstrength-succession strategy, because this is your risk management plan for your people who are your most important asset.

Think of it this way - should only large companies have data security risk management strategies and tools?  Of course not - companies of all sizes must back up their system data and have data security in place.  In the same way, all companies of any size should have talent "back up" plans and talent retention and development plans in place, as well as knowledge retention plans, to reduce talent risks.

Succession planning in a small company looks different than succession planning in a large company.  For example, a large organization has obviously a large pool of internal talent to draw from for potential successor candidates.  In a small company, succession planning may include actions to cross-train employees on each other's jobs, so that one employee can help cover the other employee's responsibilities in the event of a job vacancy.

But again, companies of all shapes and sizes should have an effective and active succession plan in place.

3/29/2016 4:58:07 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

To me it is not difficult to understand what your employees want in a leader, because they want what YOU want in a leader - someone who is fair and consistent, someone who listens, someone who is a good business leader but also makes time to communicate, to coach, to provide feedback and to develop employees.  They want someone who is honest but diplomatic and caring.

I often tell people when you find a leader who is an excellent business leader AND they are an excellent people leader - they might be a high potential leader, and certainly these are the leaders you most want to retain.  It is hard to find people who have a good balance of being both highly effective in business and in their financial acumen, and who are highly effective at talent devleopment, coaching, talent identification, emotional intelligence, etc. So hold on to those people, as they have the most attributes that make a good leader.

3/29/2016 4:53:56 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

I recommend that you attend an HRCI exam preparation course - I did this, and I felt it was very valuable.  I also recommend that you take advantage of every single study guide and tool that HRCI provides, and don't wait until the last minute to study for the exam.

One unique thing I did to prepare for my SPHR exam (this was back in 2001) was to record myself reading the important content and quiz questions in the HRCI study materials.  I then listened to that recording over and over and over, to and from my work location (this was before I started my own business) because I had a long commute.  In this way, I was able to use my long commute as a way to study!  I felt this really helped me to pass the exam on my first try.  Good luck!!

For a company that is new to creating a talent succession strategy and plan, what are the type of consulting services that you can provide in support?

For a company that is new to creating a talent succession strategy and plan, what are the type of consulting services that you can provide in support? What are the typical things you deliver to a company during an engagement?

3/29/2016 4:50:46 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

The first thing I recommend for a company who is creating (or enhancing / updating) a talent-succession strategy is to attend a training workshop on this topic, or to even attend more than one talent-succession conference or workshop to obtain multiple best practice ideas. 

This way, you can learn a large amount of information in a short time that can help you to put an effective strategy and plan in place right from the start (rather than having to make a lot of corrections later, which reduces credibility) and this can save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run.

So I provide both public and private workshops and strategy sessions on Talent Reviews, Succession Planning, High Potential Programs, etc. and I have webinars, books, and even a Talent Benchstrength boardgame to provide many different resources to help people who are creating or updating a Talent Benchstrength strategy.  My next public 2-day HRCI Pre-Approved Talent Review-Succession Strategy workshop is coming up on May 24-25, 2016 in lovely San Diego, CA, USA.

I also facilitate Talent Review meetings directly for companies, and I provide coaching for those who are facilitating Talent Review meetings for the first time.  I also provide a license to my book content and to my presentation slides which companies customize and use for their internal talent benchstrength communication materials for their HR team and for their managers.  You can contact me at for more information on these services.

3/29/2016 4:45:08 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

Sometimes there is a perception that a succession plan can only include current, internal employees.  While it is certainly a goal of succession planning to increase retention and career opportunities for the great talent you already have in the organization, the ultimate goal is to reduce talent risk management for the organization.  So, if a manager knows of a good external candidate who should be considered if the position becomes vacant, then it is perfectly fine to put that person's name on the succession plan as a potential external candidate for the position.  Obviously, all external and internal job candidates must go through the interviewing process if the position becomes vacant, whether or not they are on a succession plan.

The other thing to keep in mind though is that you can't provide development for external candidates to increase their qualifications and competencies for the job, but you do have that ability and that advantage for your internal employees as successor candidates.  So this is another reason why succession planning primarily focuses on internal talent planning and development, to reduce the costs of external recruiting and to retain top talent.

3/29/2016 4:39:28 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

This is an excellent question that many people have.  So here is a "rule of thumb" you can use whenever you wonder - should we do this within our talent benchstrength strategy:

Talent Benchstrength Rule of Thumb: If you wouldn't do it in your external talent strategy, then don't do it in your internal talent benchstrength strategy. If you do that in your external talent strategy, then you should do it also in your internal talent benchstrength strategy.


1. You would never tell an external candidate the names of the other external candidates for a job, and you would never tell them how they rank with the other job candidates.  So no, don't tell internal candidates the names of other internal successor candidates, and certainly don't tell them how they rank as a successor candidate with other internal successor candidates.

2. You conduct reporting on the EEOC categories of external job candidates, to help ensure that you are reaching a diverse group of candidates from the available pool of talent.  So analyze and report the EEOC categories of internal job candidatses to help ensure you are reaching and developing a diverse group of candidates from the available pool of talent.

Internal talent benchstrength policies and procedures are subject to review by agencies such as the EEOC and OFCCP to ensure you are following consistent policies and procedures that don't cause disparate treatment to employees, just as they do for external talent recruiting. 

3/29/2016 4:31:48 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

I used to tell people that yes, it is better to put together your manual talent review-succession strategy, tools and processes, and then find a talent management system to support that.

But now, I advise people to start looking at talent management systems early on, especially if they are a mid-large sized organization with thousands of employees, because:

1. It takes a long time to research systems, to view demos, to complete an RFP process, to purchase a system, to train everyone on the system, to merge and enter data into the system, and to really make the system useful.  So you don't want to wait until you are tearing your hair out trying to keep up with all of your manual talent-succession tools before you start looking at systems.

2. If you decide to use certain tools in your talent-succession strategy, such as a 9-Box, you want to look at systems to see how they portray this tool, so you don't have to pay for system customization, or try to retrain everyone on the "new system 9-Box" when they have been used to using a different version of the 9-Box tool.

However, it is still important not to let a talent management system dictate your talent benchstrength strategy, tools and processes, which should all be tied specifically to your business needs, to your culture, etc.  Getting talent data into a system is not the goal - the system is a tool - not the strategy and certainly not the end result. 

3/29/2016 4:24:22 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

An excellent question!  Certainly there is a lot of overlap here.  Succession planning without career planning can be invalid (i.e. we are deciding potential career paths for employees without their input - no employee wants that!).   Career planning without succession planning can be ineffective (employees are working on developing competencies for potential career paths, but the company has no internal succession discussions or processes in place to help make these potential career moves happen).

So Succession Planning pertains to the organizational strategy, processes, discussions, tools and structure to help identify where employees could potentially move in their career inside the organization, and the development actions needed to help build knowledge and competencies and qualifications to support potential career moves for employees inside of the company.

And career planning pertains to the individual planning, discussions, tools and development actions an employee can take, working with their manager, and working with HR and other business leaders in the company, to identify potential career paths and to take actions to prepare for future potential career options.

So married together, succession planning strategy and tools, and career planning strategy and tools, provide a more complete structure in an organization for successful internal talent retention, development and career movement, resulting in lower external recruiting costs for the company and in enhanced career possibilities for employees - a win-win for everyone!

What is the future of standards in HR?

Both for the HR practitioner credentials and for the vendors/suppliers in terms of interoperability with other vendors in the ecosystem.

3/29/2016 4:14:48 PM,
Doris Sims replied:

I was fortunate last year to be selected as a volunteer for the HRBok project team of the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and this team worked with HRCI to produce the future of standards for HR.   As you know, I am a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and I believe this is the credential that HR professionals should strive to achieve to add to their credentials.

3/29/2016 4:12:27 PM,
Doris Sims replied:


Hello!  Thank you for your question.  I regret that external recruiting is not my area of specialty - my area of specialty is internal talent review meetings and succession planning and development for internal employees.  I would say that the weight given to which university you attended, in my experience, is only important to a few people.  Sometimes it can be a "rapport building" point between a hiring manager and an employee if they attended the same college, and in some industries, the university you attended might have more importance that in other areas.  Your GPA is certainly important because it shows your work ethic and committment to succeed, so I would certainly emphasize that.

Most importantly, one thing I know is that hiring managers want people who want the job - who demonstrate enthusiasm for the job, and who demonstrate they are quick learners and they are willing to work hard.  Those are the attributes you want to portray.  Good luck with your job search!